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ROBA 


Presented  to  the 
LIBRARY  of  the 

UNIVERSITY   OF   TORONTO 

hy 
The  Estate  of  the  late 

PROFESSOR  A.  S.  p.  WOODHOUSE 

Head  of  the 
Defartment  of  English 
Vniversity  College 
]944_I964 


BONN'S    CLASSICAL    LIBRARY, 


L.    ANNAEUS    SENECA 


L.    ANNAEUS    SENECA 


MINOR   DIALOGUES 


TOGETHER     WITH     THE     DIALOGUE 


ON   CLEMENCY 


TRANSLATED  BY 

AUBREY    STEWART,   M.A. 

LATE    FKLLOW   OF    TRINITY    COLLEGE,    CAMBRIDGE 


LONDON :  GEORGE  BELL  AND  SONS,  YORK  STREET 
COVENT    GARDEN 

1889 


CHISVVICK    PRE-SS  ;-C.    WHITTINGHAM    AND   CO.,    TOOKS   COURT, 
CHANCERY    LANE. 


CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Of  Providence 1 

On  the  Firmness  of  the  Wise  Man      .         .        .        .        .22 

Of  Anger.     1 48 

11 76 

ni 115 

Or  Consolation,     To  Marcia  ....        .        .        .162 

Of  a  Happy  Life 204 

Of  Leisure 240 

Of  Peace  of  Mind 250 

Of  the  Shortness  of  Life 288 

Or  Consolation.     To  Helvia 320 

To  POLYBIUS 353 

Of  Clemency.     I 380 

IL     .         .        .                          .         .        .         .  415 


i 


THE  FIRST  BOOK  OF  THE  DIALOGUES 
OF  L.  AN^^ABUS  SENECA, 

ADDRESSED  TO  LUCILIUS. 

PROVIDENCE  EXISTS,  ANY  MISFi 
GOOD   MEN;"    OR,    "  OF   PROVIDENCE." 

I. 

"\/0U  have  asked  me,  Lncilius,  why,  if  the  world  be  ruled 
by  providence,  so  many  evils  befall  good  men  ?  The 
answer  to  this  would  be  more  conveniently  given  in  the 
course  of  this  work,  after  we  have  proved  that  providence 
governs  the  universe,  and  that  Grod  is  amongst  us  :  but,  since 
you  wish  me  to  deal  with  one  point  apart  from  the  whole, 
and  to  answer  one  replication  before  the  main  action  has 
been  decided,  I  will  do  what  is  not  difficult,  and  plead  the 
cause  of  the  gods.  At  the  present  time  it  is  superfluous  to 
point  out  that  it  is  not  without  some  guardian  that  so  great 
a  work  maintains  its  position,  that  the  assemblage  and 
movements  of  the  stars  do  not  depend  upon  accidental 
impulses,  or  that  objects  whose  motion  is  regulated  by  chance 
often  fall  into  confusion  and  soon  stumble,  whereas  this 
swift  and  safe  movement  goes  on,  governed  by  eternal  law, 
bearing  with  it  so  many  things  both  on  sea  and  land,  so  many 
most  brilliant  lights  shining  in  order  in  the  skies ;  that 
this  regularity  does  not  belong  to  matter  moving  at  random, 
and  that  particles  brought  together  by  chance  could  not 

B 


2  MINOR   DULOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

arrange  ttemselves  with  sncli  art  as  to  make  the  heaviest 
weight,  that  of  the  earth,  remain  unmoved,  and  behold  the 
flight  of  the  heavens  as  they  hasten  round  it,  to  make  the 
seas  pour  into  the  valleys  and  so  temper  the  climate  of  the 
land,  without  any  sensible  increase  from  the  rivers  which 
flow  into  them,  or  to  cause  huge  growths  to  proceed  from 
minute  seeds.  Even  those  phenomena  which  appear  to  be 
confused  and  irregular,  I  mean  showers  of  rain  and  clouds, 
the  rush  of  lightning  from  the  heavens,  fire  that  pours  from 
the  riven  peaks  of  mountains,  quakings  of  the  trembling 
earth,  and  everything  else  which  is  produced  on  earth  by  the 
unquiet  element  in  the  universe,  do  not  come  to  pass 
without  reason,  though  they  do  so  suddenly :  but  they  also 
have  their  causes,  as  also  have  those  things  which  excite 
our  wonder  by  the  strangeness  of  their  position,  such  as 
warm  springs  amidst  the  waves  of  the  sea,  and  new  islands 
that  spring  up  in  the  wide  ocean.  Moreover,  any  one  who 
has  watched  how  the  shore  is  laid  bare  by  the  retreat  of 
the  sea  into  itself,  and  how  within  a  short  time  it  is  again 
covered,  will  believe  that  it  is  in  obedience  to  some  hidden 
law  of  change  that  the  waves  are  at  one  time  contracted 
and  driven  inwards,  at  another  burst  forth  and  regain  their 
bed  with  a  strong  current,  since  all  the  while  they  wax  in 
regular  proportion,  and  come  up  at  their  appointed  day  and 
hour  greater  or  less,  according  as  the  moon,  at  whose 
pleasure  the  ocean  flows,  draws  them.  Let  these  matters 
be  set  aside  for  discussion  at  their  own  proper  season,  but 
I,  since  you  do  not  doubt  the  existence  of  providence  but 
complain  of  it,  will  on  that  account  more  readily  reconcile 
you  to  gods  who  are  most  excellent  to  excellent  men :  for 
indeed  the  nature  of  things  does  not  ever  permit  good  to 
be  injured  by  good.  Between  good  men  and  the  gods 
there  is  a  friendship  which  is  brought  about  by  virtue — 
friendship  do  I  say  ?  nay,  rather  relationship  and  likeness, 
since  the  good   man   differs  from  a   god   in  time  alone, 


CH.  II.]  OF  PROVIDENCE.  3 

being  his  pupil  and  rival  and  true  offspring,  whom  his 
glorious  parent  trains  more  severely  than  other  men,  in- 
sisting sternly  on  virtuous  conduct,  just  as  strict  fathers 
do.  When  therefore  you  see  men  who  are  good  and  ac- 
ceptable to  the  gods  toiling,  sweating,  painfully  struggling 
upwards,  while  bad  men  run  riot  and  are  steeped  in 
pleasures,  reflect  that  modesty  pleases  us  in  our  sons,  and 
forwardness  in  our  house-born  slave-boys ;  that  the  former 
are  held  in  check  by  a  somewhat  stern  rule,  whereas  the 
boldness  of  the  latter  is  encouraged.  Be  thou  sure  that 
God  acts  in  like  manner :  He  does  not  pet  the  good  man  : 
He  tries  him,  hardens  him,  and  fits  him  for  Himself. 

II.  Why  do  many  things  turn  out  badly  for  good  men  ? 
Why,  no  evil  can  befall  a  good  man  :  contraries  cannot 
combine.  Just  as  so  many  rivers,  so  many  showers  of  rain 
from  the  clouds,  such  a  number  of  medicinal  springs,  do  not 
alter  the  taste  of  the  sea,  indeed,  do  not  so  much  as  soften 
it,  so  the  pressure  of  adversity  does  not  affect  the  mind  of 
a  brave  man ;  for  the  mind  of  a  brave  man  maintains  its 
balance  and  throws  its  own  complexion  over  all  that  takes 
place,  because  it  is  more  powerful  than  any  external  cir- 
cumstances. I  do  not  say  that  he  does  not  feel  them,  but 
he  conquers  them,  and  on  occasion  calmly  and  tranquilly 
rises  superior  to  their  attacks,  holding  all  misfortunes  to  be 
trials  of  his  own  firmness.  Yet  who  is  there  who,  provided 
he  be  a  man  and  have  honourable  ambition,  does  not  long 
for  due  employment,  and  is  not  eager  to  do  his  duty 
in  spite  of  danger?  Is  there  any  hard-working  man  to 
whom  idleness  is  not  a  punishment  ?  We  see  athletes, 
who  study  only  their  bodily  strength,  engage  in  contests 
with  the  strongest  of  men,  and  insist  that  those  who  train 
them  for  the  arena  should  put  out  their  whole  strength 
when  practising  with  them :  they  endure  blows  and  mal- 
treatment, and,  if  they  cannot  find  any  single  person  who 
is  their  match,   they  engage  with  several  at  once :  their 


4  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

strength  and  courage  droop  without  an  antagonist:  they 
can  only  prove  how  great  and  how  mighty  it  is  by  proving 
how  much  they  can  endure.  Yon  should  know  that  good 
men  ought  to  act  in  like  manner,  so  as  not  to  fear  troubles 
and  difficulties,  nor  to  lament  their  hard  fate,  to  take 
in  good  part  whatever  befalls  them,  and  force  it  to  be- 
come a  blessing  to  them.  It  does  not  matter  what  you 
bear,  but  how  you  bear  it.  Do  you  not  see  how  diffe- 
rently fathers  and  mothers  indulge  their  children?  how 
the  former  urge  them  to  begin  their  tasks  betimes,  will  not 
suffer  them  to  be  idle  even  on  holidays,  and  exercise  them 
till  they  perspire,  and  sometimes  till  they  shed  tears — while 
their  mothers  want  to  cuddle  them  in  their  laps,  and  keep 
them  out  of  the  sun,  and  never  wish  them  to  be  vexed,  or 
to  cry,  or  to  work.  God  bears  a  fatherly  mind  towards 
good  men,  and  loves  them  in  a  manly  spirit.  "  Let  them," 
says  He,  "  be  exercised  by  labours,  sufferings,  and  losses, 
that  so  they  may  gather  true  strength."  Those  who  are 
surfeited  with  ease  break  down  not  only  with  labour,  but 
with  mere  motion  and  by  their  own  weight.  Unbroken 
prosperity  cannot  bear  a  single  blow ;  but  he  who  has 
waged  an  unceasing  strife  with  his  misfortunes  has  gained 
a  thicker  skin  by  his  sufferings,  yields  to  no  disaster,  and 
even  though  he  fall  yet  fights  on  his  knee.  Do  you  wonder 
that  God,  who  so  loves  the  good,  who  would  have  them 
attain  the  highest  goodness  and  pre-eminence,  should  ap- 
point fortune  to  be  their  adversary  ?  I  should  not  be  sur- 
prised if  the  gods  sometimes  experience  a  wish  to  behold 
great  men  struggling  with  some  misfortune.  We  some- 
times are  delighted  when  a  youth  of  steady  courage  re- 
ceives on  his  spear  the  wild  beast  that  attacks  him  ;  or 
when  he  meets  the  charge  of  a  lion  without  flinching ;  and 
the  more  eminent  the  man  is  who  acts  thus,^  the  more 

^  honestior  is  opposed  to  the  gladiator — the  loftier  the  station  of  the  com- 
batant. The  Gracchus  of  Jurenal,  Sat.  ii.  and  viii.,  illustrates  the  passage. 


CH.  If.]  OF   PROVIDENCE.  5 

attractive  is  the  sight :  yet  these  are  not  matters  which  can 
attract  the  attention  of  the  gods,  bnt  are  mere  pastime  and 
diversions  of  human  frivolity.  Behold  a  sight  worthy  to 
be  viewed  by  a  god  interested  in  his  own  work,  behold  a 
pair  ^  worthy  of  a  god,  a  brave  man  matched  with  evil 
fortune,  especially  if  he  himself  has  given  the  challenge. 
I  say,  I  do  not  know  what  nobler  spectacle  Jupiter  could 
find  on  earth,  should  he  turn  his  eyes  thither,  than  that  of 
Cato,  after  his  party  had  more  than  once  been  defeated,  still 
standing  upright  amid  the  ruins  of  the  commonwealth. 
Quoth  he,  "  What  though  all  be  fallen  into  one  man's  power, 
though  the  land  be  guarded  by  his  legions,  the  sea  by  his 
fleets,  though  Caesar's  soldiers  beset  the  city  gate  ?  Cato 
has  a  way  out  of  it :  with  one  hand  he  will  open  a  wide 
path  to  freedom  ;  his  sword,  which  he  has  borne  unstained 
by  disgrace  and  innocent  of  crime  even  in  a  civil  war,  will 
still  perform  good  and  noble  deeds  ;  it  will  give  to  Cato 
that  freedom  which  it  could  not  give  to  his  country. 
Begin,  my  soul,  the  work  which  thou  so  long  hast  contem- 
plated, snatch  thyself  away  from  the  world  of  man.  Already 
Petreius  and  Juba  have  met  and  fallen,  each  slain  by  the 
other's  hand — a  brave  and  noble  compact  with  fate,  yet  not 
one  befitting  my  greatness  :  it  is  as  disgraceful  for  Cato  to 
beg  his  death  of  any  one  as  it  would  be  for  him  to  beg  his 
life." 

It  is  clear  to  me  that  the  gods  must  have  looked  on  with 
great  joy,  while  that  man,  his  own  most  ruthless  avenger,  took 
thought  for  the  safety  of  others  and  arranged  the  escape 
of  those  who  departed,  while  even  on  his  last  night  he  pur- 
sued his  studies,  while  he  drove  the  sword  into  his  sacred 
breast,  while  he  tore  forth  his  vitals  and  laid  his  hand 
upon  that  most  holy  life  which  was  unworthy  to  be  defiled 
by  steel.     This,  I  am  inclined  to  think,  was  the  reason  that 

^  par,  a  technical  term  in  the  language  of  sport  {worthy  of  such  a  spec- 
tator). 


6  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

his  wound  was  not  well-aimed  and  mortal :  the  gods  were 
not  satisfied  with  seeing  Cato  die  once :  his  courage  was 
kept  in  action  and  recalled  to  the  stage,  that  it  might  dis- 
play itself  in  a  more  difficult  part :  for  it  needs  a  greater 
mind  to  return  a  second  time  to  death.  How  could  they 
fail  to  view  their  pupil  with  interest  when  leaving  his  life 
by  such  a  noble  and  memorable  departure  ?  Men  are  raised 
to  the  level  of  the  gods  by  a  death  which  is  admired  even 
by  those  who  fear  them. 

III.  However,  as  my  argument  proceeds,  I  shall  prove 
that  what  appear  to  be  evils  are  not  so  ;  for  the  present  I 
say  this,  that  what  you  call  hard  measure,  misfortunes,  and 
things  against  which  we  ought  to  pray,  are  really  to  the 
advantage,  firstly,  of  those  to  whom  they  happen,  and 
secondly,  of  all  mankind,  for  whom  the  gods  care  more  than 
for  individuals ;  and  next,  that  these  evils  befall  them 
with  their  own  good  will,  and  that  men  deserve  to  endure 
misfortunes,  if  they  are  unwilling  to  receive  them.  To  this 
I  shall  add,  that  misfortunes  proceed  thus  by  destiny,  and 
that  they  befall  good  men  by  the  same  law  which  makes 
them  good.  After  this,  I  shall  prevail  upon  you  never  to 
pity  any  good  man ;  for  though  he  may  be  called  unhappy, 
he  cannot  be  so. 

Of  all  these  propositions  that  which  I  have  stated  first 
appears  the  most  difficult  to  prove,  I  mean,  that  the  things 
which  we  dread  and  shudder  at  are  to  the  advantage  of  those 
to  whom  they  happen.  "  Is  it,"  say  you,  "  to  their  advantage 
to  be  driven  into  exile,  to  be  brought  to  want,  to  carry  out 
to  burial  their  children  and  wife,  to  be  publicly  disgraced, 
to  lose  their  health  ?"  Yes  !  if  you  are  surprised  at  these 
being  to  any  man's  advantage,  you  will  also  be  surprised 
at  any  man  being  benefited  by  the  knife  and  cautery,  or  by 
hunger  and  thirst  as  well.  Yet  if  you  consider  that  some 
men,  in  order  to  be  cured,  have  their  bones  scraped,  and 
pieces  of  them  extracted,  that  their  veins  are  pulled  out. 


CH.  III.]  OP    PROVIDENCE.  7 

and  that  some  have  limbs  cut  off,  which  could  not  remain 
in  their  place  without  ruin  to  the  whole  body,  you  will 
allow  me  to  prove  to  you  this  also,  that  some  misfortunes 
are  for  the  good  of  those  to  whom  they  happen,  just  as 
much,  by  Hercules,  as  some  things  which  are  praised  and 
sought  after  are  harmful  to  those  who  enjoy  them,  like 
indigestions  and  drunkenness  and  other  matters  which  kill 
us  through  pleasure.  Among  many  grand  sayings  of  our 
Demetrius  is  this,  which  I  have  but  just  heard,  and  which 
still  rings  and  thrills  in  my  ears  :  "  No  one,"  said  he,  "  seems 
to  me  more  unhappy  than  the  man  whom  no  misfortune 
has  ever  befallen."  He  never  has  had  an  opportunity  of 
testing  himself ;  though  everything  has  happened  to  him 
according  to  his  wish,  nay,  even  before  he  has  formed  a 
wish,  yet  the  gods  have  judged  him  unfavourably ;  he  has 
never  been  deemed  worthy  to  conquer  ill  fortune,  which 
avoids  the  greatest  cowards,  as  though  it  said,  "  Why  should 
I  take  that  man  for  my  antagonist  ?  He  will  straightway 
lay  down  his  arms  :  I  shall  not  need  all  my  strength  against 
him :  he  will  be  put  to  flight  by  a  mere  menace :  he  dares  not 
even  face  me  ;  let  me  look  around  for  some  other  with  whom 
I  may  fight  hand  to  hand  :  I  blush  to  join  battle  with  one 
who  is  prepared  to  be  beaten."  A  gladiator  deems  it  a  dis- 
grace to  be  matched  with  an  inferior,  and  knows  that  to  win 
without  danger  is  to  win  without  glory.  Just  so  doth  For- 
tune ;  she  seeks  out  the  bravest  to  match  herself  with,  passes 
over  some  with  disdain,  and  makes  for  the  most  unyielding 
and  upright  of  men,  to  exert  her  strength  against  them. 
She  tried  Mucins  by  fire,  Fabricius  by  poverty,  Rutilius  by 
exile,  E-egulus  by  torture,  Socrates  by  poison,  Cato  by 
death  :  it  is  ill  fortune  alone  that  discovers  these  glorious 
examples.  Was  Mucins  unhappy,  because  he  grasped 
the  enemy's  fire  with  his  right  hand,  and  of  his  own  accord 
paid  the  penalty  of  his  mistake  ?  because  he  overcame  the 
King  with  his  hand  when  it  was  burned,  though  he  could 


8  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

not  wlien  it  lield  a  sword  ?  Would  he  have  been  happier, 
if  he  had  warmed  his  hand  in  his  mistress's  bosom  ? 
Was  Fabricius  unhappy,  because  when  the  state  could 
spare  him,  he  dug  his  own  land  ?  because  he  waged  war 
against  riches  as  keenly  as  against  Pyrrhus  ?  because  he 
supped  beside  his  hearth  off  the  very  roots  and  herbs 
which  he  himself,  though  an  old  man,  and  one  who  had 
enjoyed  a  triumph,  had  grubbed  up  while  clearing  his 
field  of  weeds  ?  What  then  ?  would  he  have  been  happier 
if  he  had  gorged  himself  with  fishes  from  distant  shores, 
and  birds  caught  in  foreign  lands  ?  if  he  had  roused  the 
torpor  of  his  queasy  stomach  with  shellfish  from  the  upper 
and  the  lower  sea  ?  if  he  had  piled  a  great  heap  of  fruits 
round  game  of  the  first  head,  which  many  huntsmen  had 
been  killed  in  capturing  ?  Was  Rutilius  unhappy,  because 
those  who  condemned  him  will  have  to  plead  their  cause 
for  all  ages  ?  because  he  endured  the  loss  of  his  country 
more  composedly  than  that  of  his  banishment  ?  because  he 
was  the  only  man  who  refused  anything  to  Sulla  the  dic- 
tator, and  when  recalled  from  exile  all  but  went  further 
away  and  banished  himself  still  more.  "  Let  those," 
said  he,  "  whom  thy  fortunate  reign  catches  at  Rome,  see  to 
the  Forum  drenched  with  blood,^  and  the  heads  of  Senators 
above  the  Pool  of  Servilius — the  place  where  the  victims  of 
Sulla's  proscriptions  were  stripped — the  bands  of  assassins 
roaming  at  large  through  the  city,  and  many  thousands  of 
Roman  citizens  slaughtered  in  one  place,  after,  nay,  by 
means  of  a  promise  of  quarter.  Let  those  who  are  unable 
to  go  into  exile  behold  these  things."  Well!  is  Lucius 
Sulla  happy,  because  when  he  comes  down  into  the  Forum 
room  is  made  for  him  with  sword-strokes,  because  he  allows 
the  heads  of  consulars  to  be  shown  to  him,  and  counts  out 
the  price  of  blood  through  the  quaestor  and  the  state  ex- 

^  viderint — Let  them  see  to  it :  it  is  no  matter  of  mine. 


CH.  III.]  OF    PEOYIDENCE.  9 

chequer?  And  this,  this  was  the  man  who  passed  the  Lex 
Cornelia  !  Let  us  now  come  to  Regulus :  what  injury  did  for- 
tune do  him  when  she  made  him  an  example  of  good  faith, 
an  example  of  endurance  ?  They  pierce  his  skin  with  nails  : 
wherever  he  leans  his  weary  body,  it  rests  on  a  wound ;  his 
eyes  are  fixed  for  ever  open  ;  the  greater  his  sufferings,  the 
greater  is  his  glory.  Would  you  know  how  far  he  is  from 
regretting  that  he  valued  his  honour  at  such  a  price  ?  heal 
his  wounds  and  send  him  again  into  the  senate-house ; 
he  will  give  the  same  advice.  So,  then,  you  think  Maecenas 
a  happier  man,  who  when  troubled  by  love,  and  weeping  at 
the  daily  repulses  of  his  ill-natured  wife,  sought  for  sleep 
by  listening  to  distant  strains  of  music  ?  Though  he  drug 
himself  with  wine,  divert  himself  with  the  sound  of  falling 
waters,  and  distract  his  troubled  thoughts  with  a  thousand 
pleasures,  yet  Maecenas  will  no  more  sleep  on  his  down 
cushions  than  Regulus  on  the  rack.  Yet  it  consoles  the 
latter  that  he  suffers  for  the  sake  of  honour,  and  he  looks 
away  from  his  torments  to  their  cause  :  whilst  the  other, 
jaded  with  pleasures  and  sick  with  over- enjoyment,  is 
more  hurt  by  the  cause  of  his  sufferings  than  by  the  suffer- 
ings themselves.  Vice  has  not  so  utterly  taken  possession 
of  the  human  race  that,  if  men  were  allowed  to  choose 
their  destiny,  there  can  be  any  doubt  but  that  more  would 
choose  to  be  Reguluses  than  to  be  Maecenases :  or  if  there 
were  any  one  who  dared  to  say  that  he  would  prefer  to  be 
born  Maecenas  than  Regulus,  that  man,  whether  he  says  so 
or  not,  would  rather  have  been  Terentia  (than  Cicero). 

Do  you  consider  Socrates  to  have  been  badly  used, 
because  he  took  that  draught  which  the  state  assigned  to 
him  as  though  it  were  a  charm  to  make  him  immortal,  and 
argued  about  death  until  death  itself  ?  Was  he  ill  treated, 
because  his  blood  froze  and  the  current  of  his  veins 
gradually  stopped  as  the  chill  of  death  crept  over  them  ? 
How  much  more  is  this  man  to  be  envied  than  he  who  is 


10  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

served  on  precious  stones,  whose  drink  a  creature  trained 
to  every  vice,  a  eunuch  or  much  the  same,  cools  with  snow 
in  a  golden  cup  ?  Such  men  as  these  bring  up  again  all 
that  they  drink,  in  misery  and  disgust  at  the  taste  of  their 
own  bile,  while  Socrates  cheerfully  and  willingly  drains 
his  poison.  As  for  Cato,  enough  has  been  said,  and  all 
men  must  agree  that  the  highest  happiness  was  reached  by 
one  who  was  chosen  by  Nature  herself  as  worthy  to  contend 
with  all  her  terrors :  "  The  enmity,"  says  she,  "  of  the 
powerful  is  grievous,  therefore  let  him  be  opposed  at  once 
by  Pompeius,  Caesar,  and  Crassus :  it  is  grievous,  when  a 
candidate  for  public  offices,  to  be  defeated  by  one's  inferiors ; 
therefore  let  him  be  defeated  by  Yatinius :  it  is  grievous 
to  take  part  in  civil  wars,  therefore  let  him  fight  in  every 
part  of  the  world  for  the  good  cause  with  equal  obstinacy 
and  ill-luck :  it  is  grievous  to  lay  hands  upon  one's  self, 
therefore  let  him  do  so.  What  shall  I  gain  by  this  ?  That 
all  men  may  know  that  these  things,  which  I  have  deemed 
Cato  worthy  to  undergo,  are  not  real  evils." 

IV.  Prosperity  comes  to  the  mob,  and  to  low-minded 
men  as  well  as  to  great  ones ;  but  it  is  the  privilege  of 
great  men  alone  to  send  under  the  yoke^  the  disasters 
and  terrors  of  mortal  life:  whereas  to  be  always  pros- 
perous, and  to  pass  through  life  without  a  twinge  of  mental 
distress,  is  to  remain  ignorant  of  one  half  of  nature. 
You  are  a  great  man ;  but  how  am  I  to  know  it,  if  fortune 
gives  you  no  opportunity  of  showing  your  virtue  ?  You 
have  entered  the  arena  of  the  Olympic  games,  but  no  one 

^  That  is,  to  triumph  over.  "  Two  spears  were  set  upright  ....  and 
a  third  was  fastened  across  them  at  the  top  ;  and  through  this  gateway 
the  vanquished  army  marched  out,  as  a  token  that  they  had  been  con- 
quered in  war,  and  owed  their  lives  to  the  enemy's  mercy.  It  was  no 
peculiar  insult  devised  for  this  occasion,  but  a  common  usage,  so  far 
as  appears,  in  similar  cases ;  like  the  modern  ceremony  of  piling  arms 
when  a  garrison  or  army  surrender  themselves  as  prisoners  of  war.-' — 
Arnold's  History  of  Rome,  ch.  xxxi. 


CH.  lY.]  OF   PROYIDENCE.  11 

else  has  done  so  :  you  have  the  crown,  bnt  not  the  victory  : 
I  do  not  congratulate  you  as  I  would  a  brave  man,  but  as 
one  who  has  obtained  a  consulship  or  praetorship.  You 
have  gained  dignity.  I  may  say  the  same  of  a  good  man, 
if  troublesome  circumstances  have  never  given  him  a  single 
opportunity  of  displaying  the  strength  of  his  mind.  I 
think  you  unhappy  because  you  never  have  been  unhappy : 
you  have  passed  through  your  life  without  meeting  an 
antagonist :  no  one  will  know  your  powers,  not  even  you 
yourself."  For  a  man  cannot  know  himself  without  a  trial : 
no  one  ever  learnt  what  he  could  do  without  putting  himself 
to  the  test ;  for  which  reason  many  have  of  their  own  free 
will  exposed  themselves  to  misfortunes  which  no  longer 
came  in  their  way,  and  have  sought  for  an  opportunity  of 
making  their  virtue,  which  otherwise  would  have  been  lost 
in  darkness,  shine  before  the  world.  Great  men,  I  say^ 
often  rejoice  at  crosses  of  fortune  just  as  brave  soldiers  do 
at  wars.  I  remember  to  have  heard  Triumphus,  who  wa& 
a  gladiator^  in  the  reign  of  Tiberius  Caesar,  complaining 
about  the  scarcity  of  prizes.  "What  a  glorious  time,'^ 
said  he,  "  is  past."  Yalour  is  greedy  of  danger,  and  thinks 
only  of  whither  it  strives  to  go,  not  of  what  it  will  suffer,, 
since  even  what  it  will  suffer  is  part  of  its  glory.  Soldiers 
pride  themselves  on  their  wounds,  they  joyously  display 
their  blood  flowing  over  their  breastplate.^  Though  those 
who  return  unwounded  from  battle  may  have  done  as  bravely , 
yet  he  who  returns  wounded  is  more  admired.  God,  I 
say,  favours  those  whom  He  wishes  to  enjoy  the  greatest 
honours,  whenever  He  affords  them  the  means  of  perform- 
ing some  exploit  with  spirit  and  courage,  something  which 
is  not  easily  to  be  accomplished :  you  can  judge  of  a  pilot 
in  a  storm,  of  a  soldier  in  a  battle.     How  can  I  know  with 

^  He  was  a  "  mirmillo,"  a  kind  of  gladiator  who  was  armed  with  a 
Gaulish  helmet. 
^  e  lorica. 


12  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

how  great  a  spirit  yon  could  endure  poverty,  if  you  over- 
flow with  riches  ?  How  can  I  tell  with  how  great  firmness 
yon  could  bear  up  against  disgrace,  dishonour,  and  public 
hatred,  if  you  grow  old  to  the  sound  of  applause,  if  popular 
favour  cannot  be  alienated  from  you,  and  seems  to  flow 
to  you  by  the  natural  bent  of  men's  minds  ?  How 
can  I  know  how  calmly  you  would  endure  to  be  childless, 
if  you  see  all  your  children  around  you  ?  I  have  heard 
what  you  said  when  you  were  consoling  others  :  then  I 
should  have  seen  whether  you  could  have  consoled  your- 
self, whether  you  could  have  forbidden  yourself  to  grieve. 
Do  not,  I  beg  you,  dread  those  things  which  the  immortal 
gods  apply  to  our  minds  like  spurs  :  misfortune  is  virtue's 
opportunity.  Those  men  may  justly  be  called  unhappy 
who  are  stupified  with  excess  of  enjoyment,  whom  sluggish 
contentment  keeps  as  it  were  becalmed  in  a  quiet  sea: 
whatever  befalls  them  will  come  strange  to  them.  Misfor- 
tunes press  hardest  on  those  who  are  unacquainted  with 
them :  the  yoke  feels  heavy  to  the  tender  neck.  The  re- 
cruit turns  pale  at  the  thought  of  a  wound :  the  veteran,  who 
knows  that  he  has  often  won  the  victory  after  losing  blood, 
looks  boldly  at  his  own  flowing  gore.  In  like  manner  God 
hardens,  reviews,  and  exercises  those  whom  He  tests  and 
loves :  those  whom  He  seems  to  indulge  and  spare.  He  is 
keeping  out  of  condition  to  meet  their  coming  misfortunes  : 
for  you  are  mistaken  if  you  suppose  that  any  one  is  exempt 
from  misfortune :  he  who  has  long  prospered  will  have  his 
share  some  day ;  those  who  seem  to  have  been  spared  them 
have  only  had  them  put  off.  Why  does  God  afflict  the 
best  of  men  with  ill-health,  or  sorrow,  or  other  troubles  ? 
Because  in  the  army  the  most  hazardous  services  are 
assigned  to  the  bravest  soldiers :  a  general  sends  his 
choicest  troops  to  attack  the  enemy  in  a  midnight  ambus- 
cade, to  reconnoitre  his  line  of  march,  or  to  drive  the 
hostile  garrisons  from  their  strong  places.   No  one  of  these 


CH.  IV.]  OV   PKOVIDENCE.  13 

men  says  as  he  begins  his  march,  "  The  general  has  dealt 
hardly  with  me,"  but  "He  has  judged  well  of  me." 
Let  those  who  are  bidden  to  suffer  what  makes  the  weak 
and  cowardly  weep,  say  likewise,  "  Grod  has  thought  us 
worthy  subjects  on  whom  to  try  how  much  suffering 
human  nature  can  endure."  Avoid  luxury,  avoid  effemi- 
nate enjoyment,  by  which  men's  minds  are  softened,  and 
in  which,  unless  something  occurs  to  remind  them  of  the 
common  lot  of  humanity,  they  lie  unconscious,  as  though 
plunged  in  continual  drunkenness.  He  whom  glazed 
windows  have  always  guarded  from  the  wind,  whose  feet 
are  warmed  by  constantly  renewed  fomentations,  whose 
dining-room  is  heated  by  hot  air  beneath  the  floor  and 
spread  through  the  walls,  cannot  meet  the  gentlest  breeze 
without  danger.  While  all  excesses  are  hurtful,  excess 
of  comfort  is  the  most  hurtful  of  all ;  it  affects  the  brain  ; 
it  leads  men's  minds  into  vain  imaginings ;  it  spreads  a 
thick  cloud  over  the  boundaries  of  truth  and  falsehood. 
Is  it  not  better,  with  virtue  by  one's  side,  to  endure  con- 
tinual misfortune,  than  to  burst  with  an  endless  surfeit 
of  good  things  ?  It  is  the  overloaded  stomach  that  is 
rent  asunder:  death  treats  starvation  more  gently.  The 
gods  deal  with  good  men  according  to  the  same  rule  as 
schoolmasters  with  their  pupils,  who  exact  most  labour 
from  those  of  whom  they  have  the  surest  hopes.  Do 
you  imagine  that  the  Lacedaemonians,  who  test  the  mettle 
of  their  children  by  public  flogging,  do  not  love  them  ? 
Their  own  fathers  call  upon  them  to  endure  the  strokes  of 
the  rod  bravely,  and  when  they  are  torn  and  half  dead,  ask 
them  to  offer  their  wounded  skin  to  receive  fresh  wounds. 
Why  then  should  we  wonder  if  Grod  tries  noble  spirits 
severely  ?  There  can  be  no  easy  proof  of  virtue.  Fortune 
lashes  and  mangles  us:  well,  let  us  endure  it:  it  is  not 
cruelty,  it  is  a  struggle,  in  which  the  oftener  we  engage 
the  braver  we  shall  become.     The  strongest  part  of  the 


14  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

body  is  tliat  whicli  is  exercised  by  the  most  frequent  use  : 
we  must  entrust  ourselves  to  fortune  to  be  hardened  by 
her  against  herself :  by  degrees  she  will  make  us  a  match 
for  herself.  Familiarity  with  danger  leads  us  to  despise 
it.  Thus  the  bodies  of  sailors  are  hardened  by  endurance 
of  the  sea,  and  the  hands  of  farmers  by  work ;  the 
arms  of  soldiers  are  powerful  to  hurl  darts,  the  legs  of 
runners  are  active :  that  part  of  each  man  which  he  exer- 
cises is  the  strongest :  so  by  endurance  the  mind  becomes 
able  to  despise  the  power  of  misfortunes.  You  may  see 
what  endurance  might  effect  in  us  if  you  observe  what 
labour  does  among  tribes  that  are  naked  and  rendered 
stronger  by  want.  Look  at  all  the  nations  that  dwell  be- 
yond the  Roman  Empire  :  I  mean  the  Germans  and  all  the 
nomad  tribes  that  war  against  us  along  the  Danube.  They 
suffer  from  eternal  winter,  and  a  dismal  climate,  the 
barren  soil  grudges  them  sustenance,  they  keep  off  the 
rain  with  leaves  or  thatch,  they  bound  across  frozen 
marshes,  and  hunt  wild  beasts  for  food.  Do  you  think 
them  unhappy  ?  There  is  no  unhappiness  in  what  use  has 
made  part  of  one's  nature :  by  degrees  men  find  pleasure 
in  doing  what  they  were  first  driven  to  do  by  necessity. 
They  have  no  homes  and  no  resting-places  save  those 
which  weariness  appoints  tbem  for  the  day;  their  food, 
though  coarse,  yet  must  be  sought  with  their  own  hands ; 
the  harshness  of  the  climate  is  terrible,  and  their  bodies 
are  unclothed.  This,  which  you  think  a  hardship,  is  the 
mode  of  life  of  all  these  races :  how  then  can  you  wonder 
at  good  men  being  shaken,  in  order  that  they  may  be 
strengthened  ?  No  tree  which  the  wind  does  not  often 
blow  against  is  firm  and  strong;  for  it  is  stiffened  by 
the  very  act  of  being  shaken,  and  plants  its  roots  more 
securely :  those  which  grow  in  a  sheltered  valley  are 
brittle :  and  so  it  is  to  the  advantage  of  good  men,  and 
causes  them  to  be  undismayed,  that  they  should  live  much 


CH.  v.]  OP   PROVIDENCE.  15 

amidst  alarms,  and  leam  to  bear  with  patience  what  is  not 
evil  save  to  him  who  endures  it  ill. 

y.  Add  to  this  that  it  is  to  the  advantage  of  every  one 
that  the  best  men  should,  so  to  speak,  be  on  active  service  and 
perform  labours :  God  has  the  same  purpose  as  the  wise  man, 
that  is,  to  prove  that  the  things  which  the  herd  covets  and 
dreads  are  neither  good  nor  bad  in  themselves.  If,  how- 
ever. He  only  bestows  them  upon  good  men,  it  will  be  evi- 
dent that  they  are  good  things,  and  bad,  if  He  only  inflicts 
them  upon  bad  men.  Blindness  would  be  execrable  if  no 
one  lost  his  eyes  except  those  who  deserve  to  have  them 
pulled  out ;  therefore  let  Appius  and  Metellus  be  doomed 
to  darkness.  Riches  are  not  a  good  thing :  therefore  let 
Elius  the  pander  possess  them,  that  men  who  have  conse- 
crated money  in  the  temple,  may  see  the  same  in  the 
brothel :  for  by  no  means  can  God  discredit  objects  of 
desire  so  effectually  as  by  bestowing  them  upon  the  worst 
of  men,  and  removing  them  from  the  best.  "But,"  you 
say,  "  it  is  unjust  that  a  good  man  should  be  enfeebled,  or 
transfixed,  or  chained,  while  bad  men  swagger  at  large 
with  a  whole  skin."  What !  is  it  not  unjust  that  brave 
men  should  bear  arms,  pass  the  night  in  camps,  and  stand 
on  guard  along  the  rampart  with  their  wounds  still 
bandaged,  while  within  the  city  eunuchs  and  professional 
profligates  live  at  their  ease  ?  what  ?  is  it  not  unjust  that 
maidens  of  the  highest  birth  should  be  roused  at  night  to 
perform  Divine  service,  while  fallen  women  enjoy  the 
soundest  sleep  ?  Labour  calls  for  the  best  men  :  the  senate 
often  passes  the  whole  day  in  debate,  while  at  the  same 
time  every  scoundrel  either  amuses  his  leisure  in  the 
Campus  Martins,  or  lurks  in  a  tavern,  or  passes  his  time  in 
some  pleasant  society.  The  same  thing  happens  in  this 
great  commonwealth  (of  the  world)  :  good  men  labour, 
spend  and  are  spent,  and  that  too  of  their  own  free 
will;  they  are  not  dragged  along  by  fortune,  but  follow 


16  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

her  and  take  equal  steps  with  her ;  if  they  knew  how,  they 
would  outstrip  her.  I  remember,  also,  to  have  heard  this 
spirited  saying  of  that  stoutest-hearted  of  men,  Demetrius. 
"  Ye  immortal  Gods,"  said  he,  "  the  only  complaint  which 
I  have  to  make  of  you  is  that  you  did  not  make  your  will 
known  to  me  earlier  ;  for  then  I  would  sooner  have  gone 
into  that  state  of  life  to  which  I  now  have  been  called.  Do 
you  wish  to  take  my  children  ?  it  was  for  you  that  I  brought 
them  up.  Do  you  wish  to  take  some  part  of  my  body  ? 
take  it :  it  is  no  great  thing  that  I  am  offering  you,  I  shall 
soon  have  done  with  the  whole  of  it.  Do  you  wish  for  my 
life  ?  why  should  I  hesitate  to  return  to  you  what  you  gave 
me  ?  whatever  you  ask  you  shall  receive  with  my  good 
will :  nay,  I  would  rather  give  it  than  be  forced  to  hand  it 
over  to  you  :  what  need  had  you  to  take  away  what  you 
did  ?  you  might  have  received  it  from  me :  yet  even  as  it 
is  you  cannot  take  anything  from  me,  because  you  cannot 
rob  a  man  unless  he  resists." 

I  am  constrained  to  nothing,  I  suffer  nothing  against  my 
will,  nor  am  I  God's  slave,  but  his  willing  follower,  and  so 
much  the  more  because  I  know  that  everything  is  ordained 
and  proceeds  according  to  a  law  that  endures  for  ever. 
The  fates  guide  us,  and  the  length  of  every  man's  days  is 
decided  at  the  first  hour  of  his  birth  :  every  cause  depends 
upon  some  earlier  cause  :  one  long  chain  of  destiny  decides 
all  things,  public  or  private.  Wherefore,  everything  must 
be  patiently  endured,  because  events  do  not  fall  in  our  way, 
as  we  imagine,  but  come  by  a  regular  law.  It  has  long 
ago  been  settled  at  what  you  should  rejoice  and  at  what 
you  should  weep,  and  although  the  lives  of  individual  men 
appear  to  differ  from  one  another  in  a  great  variety  of  par- 
ticulars, yet  the  sum  total  comes  to  one  and  the  same  thing : 
we  soon  perish,  and  the  gifts  which  we  receive  soon 
perish.  Why,  then,  should  we  be  angry  ?  why  should  we 
lament  ?    we  are  prepared  for  our  fate :    let  nature  deal 


CH.  v.]  OF    PROVIDENCE.  17 

as  she  will  with  her  own  bodies  ;  let  us  be  cheerful  whatever 
befalls,  and  stoutly  reflect  that  it  is  not  anything  of  our 
own  that  perishes.  What  is  the  duty  of  a  good  man  ?  to 
submit  himself  to  fate  :  it  is  a  great  consolation  to  be 
swept  away  together  with  the  entire  nniverse  :  whatever 
law  is  laid  npon  us  that  thus  we  mnst  live  and  thus  we  must 
die,  is  laid  npon  the  gods  also :  one  unchangeable  stream 
bears  along  men  and  gods  alike  :  the  creator  and  ruler  of 
the  universe  himself,  though  he  has  given  laws  to  the  fates, 
yet  is  guided  by  them  :  he  always  obeys,  he  only  once  com- 
manded. "  But  why  was  God  so  unjust  in  His  distribution  of 
fate,  as  to  assign  poverty,  wounds,  and  untimely  deaths  to 
good  men  ?  ' '  The  workman  cannot  alter  his  materials : 
this  is  their  nature.  Some  qualities  cannot  be  separated 
from  some  others :  they  cling  together  ;  are  indivisible. 
Dull  minds,  tending  to  sleep  or  to  a  waking  state  exactly 
like  sleep,  are  composed  of  sluggish  elements  :  it  requires 
stronger  stuff  to  form  a  man  meriting  careful  description. 
His  course  will  not  be  straightforward;  he  must  go  up- 
wards and  downwards,  be  tossed  about,  and  guide  his  vessel 
through  troubled  waters  :  he  must  make  his  way  in  spite 
of  fortune  :  he  will  meet  with  much  that  is  hard  which  he 
must  soften,  much  that  is  rough  that  he  must  make  smooth- 
Fire  tries  gold,  misfortune  tries  brave  men.  See  how 
high  virtue  has  to  climb :  you  may  be  sure  that  it  has  no 
safe  path  to  tread. 

"  Steep  is  the  path  at  first :  the  steeds,  though  strong, 
Fresh  from  their  rest,  can  hardly  crawl  along ; 
The  middle  part  lies  through  the  topmost  sky, 
Whence  oft,  as  I  the  earth  and  sea  descry, 
I  shudder,  terrors  through  my  bosom  thrill. 
The  ending  of  the  path  is  sheer  down  hill, 
And  needs  the  careful  guidance  of  the  rein. 
For  ever  when  I  sink  beneath  the  main, 
C 


18  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

Old  Tethys  trembles  in  her  depths  below 
Lest  headlong  down  upon  her  I  should  go."  ^ 

When  the  spirited  youth  heard  this,  he  said,  "  I  have  no 
fault  to  find  with  the  road :  I  will  mount  it,  it  is  worth 
while  to  go  through  these  places,  even  though  one  fall." 
His  father  did  not  cease  from  trying  to  scare  his  brave 
spirit  with  terrors  : — 

"  Then,  too,  that  thou  may'st  hold  thy  course  aright, 
And  neither  turn  aside  to  left  nor  right. 
Straight  through  the  Bull's  fell  horns  thy  path  must  go, 
Through  the  fierce  Lion,  and  the  Archer's  bow." 

After  this  Phaethon  says  : — 

"  Harness  the  chariot  which  you  yield  to  me, 

I  am  encouraged  by  these  things  with  which  you  think  to 
scare  me  :  I  long  to  stand  where  the  Sun  himself  trembles 
to  stand."  It  is  the  part  of  grovellers  and  cowards  to  follow 
the  safe  track ;  courage  loves  a  lofty  path. 

yi.  "  Yet,  why  does  Grod  permit  evil  to  happen  to 
good  men  ?  "  He  does  not  permit  it :  he  takes  away  from 
them  all  evils,  such  as  crimes  and  scandalous  wickedness, 
daring  thoughts,  grasping  schemes,  blind  lusts,  and  avarice 
coveting  its  neighbour's  goods.  He  protects  and  saves  them. 
Does  any  one  besides  this  demand  that  Grod  should  look 
after  the  baggage  of  good  men  also  ?  Why,  they  them- 
selves leave  the  care  of  this  to  God  :  they  scorn  external 
accessories.  Democritus  forswore  riches,  holding  them 
to  be  a  burden  to  a  virtuous  mind :  what  wonder  then,  if 
God  permits  that  to  happen  to  a  good  man,  which  a  good 
man  sometimes  chooses  should  happen  to  himself  ?  Good 
men,  you  say,  lose  their  children :  why  should  they  not, 
since  sometimes  they  even  put  them  to  death  ?  They  are 
banished :  why  should  they  not  be,  since  sometimes  they 

^  The  lines  occur  in  Ovid's  Metamorphoses,  ii.  63.  Phoebus  is  telling 
Phaethon  how  to  drive  the  chariot  of  the  Sun. 


CH.  VI,]  OP    PROVIDENCE.  19 

leave  their  country  of  their  own  free  will,  never  to  return  ? 
They  are  slain  :  why  not,  since  sometimes  they  choose  to 
lay  violent  hands  on  themselves  ?     Why  do  they  suffer  cer- 
tain miseries  ?  it  is  that  they  may  teach  others  how  to  do 
so.     They  are  born  as  patterns.     Conceive,  therefore,  that 
G-od  says : — "  You,  who  have  chosen  righteousness,  what 
complaint  can   you  make  of  me  ?      I    have  encompassed 
other  men  with  unreal  good  things,  and  have  deceived  their 
inane  minds  as  it  were  by  a  long  and  misleading  dream  :  I 
have  bedecked  them  with  gold,  silver,  and  ivory,  but  within 
them  there  is  no  good  thing.     Those  men  whom  you  re- 
gard as  fortunate,  if  you  could  see,  not  their  outward  show, 
but  their  hidden  life,  are  really  unhappy,  mean,  and  base, 
ornamented  on  the  outside  like  the  walls  of  their  houses  : 
that  good  fortune  of  theirs  is  not  sound  and  genuine  :  it  is 
only  a  veneer,  and  that  a  thin  one.     As  long,  therefore,  as 
they  can  stand  upright  and  display  themselves  as  they 
choose,  they  shine  and  impose  upon  one ;  when  something 
occurs   to    shake   and    unmask   them,    we   see    how   deep 
and  real  a  rottenness  was  hidden  by  that  factitious  magni- 
ficence.     To   you   I   have   given    sure   and  lasting  good 
things,  which  become   greater  and  better   the   more  one 
turns  them  over  and  views  them  on  every  side :    I  have 
granted  to  you  to  scorn  danger,  to  disdain  passion.     You 
do  not  shine  outwardly,  all  your  good  qualities  are  turned 
inwards  ;  even  so  does  the  world  neglect  what  lies  without 
it,  and  rejoices  in  the  contemplation  of   itself.      I   have 
placed  every  good  thing  within  your  own  breasts  :    it  is 
your  good  fortune  not  to  need  any  good  fortune.     *  Yet 
many  things  befall  you  which  are  sad,  dreadful,  hard  to  be 
borne.'   Well,  as  I  have  not  been  able  to  remove  these  from 
your  path,  I  have  given  your  minds  strength  to  combat 
all :    bear  them  bravely.      In  this  you  can  surpass   God 
himself ;    He  is  beyond  suffering  evil :    you  are  above  it. 
Despise  poverty  ;   no  man  lives  as  poor  as  he  was  born  : 


20  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  I. 

despise  pain  ;  either  it  will  cease  or  you  will  cease  :  despise 
death  ;  it  either  ends  you  or  takes  you  elsewhere  :  despise 
fortune ;  I  have  given  her  no  weapon  that  can  reach  the 
mind.  Above  all,  I  have  taken  care  that  no  one  should 
hold  you  captive  against  your  will :  the  way  of  escape  lies 
open  before  you :  if  you  do  not  choose  to  fight,  you  may 
fly.  For  this  reason,  of  all  those  matters  which  I  have 
deemed  essential  for  you,  I  have  made  nothing  easier  for 
you  than  to  die.  I  have  set  man's  life  as  it  were  on  a 
mountain  side  :  it  soon  slips  down.^  Do  but  watch,  and 
you  will  see  how  short  and  how  ready  a  path  leads  to  free- 
dom. I  have  not  imposed  such  long  delays  upon  those  who 
quit  the  world  as  upon  those  who  enter  it :  were  it  not  so, 
fortune  would  hold  a  wide  dominion  over  you,  if  a  man 
died  as  slowly  as  he  is  born.  Let  all  time,  let  every  place 
teach  you,  how  simple  it  is  to  renounce  nature,  and  to  fling 
back  her  gifts  to  her  :  before  the  altar  itself  and  during 
the  solemn  rites  of  sacrifice,  while  life  is  being  prayed  for, 
learn  how  to  die.  Fat  oxen  fall  dead  with  a  tiny  wound ; 
a  blow  from  a  man's  hand  fells  animals  of  great  strength  : 
the  sutures  of  the  neck  are  severed  by  a  thin  blade,  and 
when  the  joint  which  connects  the  head  and  neck  is  cut,  all 
that  great  mass  falls.    The  breath  of  life  is  not  deep  seated, 

^  Compare  Walter  Scott :  "  All  ....  must  have  felt  that  but  for  the 
dictates  of  religion,  or  the  natural  recoil  of  the  mind  from  the  idea  of 
dissolution,  there  have  been  times  when  they  would  have  been  willing  to 
throw  away  life  as  a  child  does  a  broken  toy.  I  am  sure  I  know  one 
who  has  often  felt  so.  O  God !  what  are  we  ? — Lords  of  nature  ? — Why, 
a  tile  drops  from  a  house-top,  which  an  elephant  would  not  feel  more 
than  a  sheet  of  pasteboard,  and  there  lies  his  lordship.  Or  something 
of  inconceivably  minute  origin,  the  pressure  of  a  bone,  or  the  inflam- 
mation of  a  particle  of  the  brain  takes  place,  and  the  emblem  of  the 
Deity  destroys  himself  or  some  one  else.  We  hold  our  health  and  our 
reason  on  terms  slighter  than  any  one  would  desire,  were  it  in  their 
choice,  to  hold  an  Irish  cabin," — Lockhart's  Life  of  Sir  Walter 
Scott,  vol.  vii.,  p.  11. 


CH.  VI.]  OF   PROVIDENCE.  21 

nor  only  to  be  let  forth  by  steel — the  vitals  need  not  be 
searched  throughout  by  plunging  a  sword  among  them  to 
the  hilt :  death  lies  near  the  surface.  I  have  not  appointed 
any  particular  spot  for  these  blows — the  body  may  be 
pierced  wherever  you  please.  That  very  act  which  is  called 
dying,  by  which  the  breath  of  life  leaves  the  body,  is  too 
short  for  you  to  be  able  to  estimate  its  quickness  :  whether 
a  knot  crushes  the  windpipe,  or  water  stops  your  breathing : 
whether  you  fall  headlong  from  a  height  and  perish  upon 
the  hard  ground  below,  or  a  mouthful  of  fire  checks  the 
drawing  of  your  breath — whatever  it  is,  it  acts  swiftly. 
Do  you  not  blush  to  spend  so  long  a  time  in  dreading  what 
takes  so  short  a  time  to  do  ?  " 


22 


THE   SECOND    BOOK   OF    THE    DIALOGUES 

OF    L.   ANNAEUS    SENECA, 
ADDEESSED  TO  SEEENUS. 

"that  the  wise  man  can  neither  eeceiye  injury  nor 
insult,"  or,  an  essay  on  the  firmness  op 

the   WISE    MAN. 
I. 

T  MIGHT  truly  say,  Serenus,  that  there  is  as  wide  a  dif- 
ference between  the  Stoics  and  the  other  sects  of  philo- 
sophers as  there  is  between  men  and  women,  since  each 
class  contributes  an  equal  share  to  human  society,  but  the 
one  is  born  to  command,  the  other  to  obey.  The  other 
philosophers  deal  with  us  gently  and  coaxingly,  just  as  our 
accustomed  family  physicians  usually  do  with  our  bodies, 
treating  them  not  by  the  best  and  shortest  method,  but  by 
that  which  we  allow  them  to  employ ;  whereas  the  Stoics 
adopt  a  manly  course,  and  do  not  care  about  its  appearing 
attractive  to  those  who  are  entering  upon  it,  but  that  it 
should  as  quickly  as  possible  take  us  out  of  the  world,  and 
lead  us  to  that  lofty  eminence  which  is  so  far  beyond  the 
scope  of  any  missile  weapon  that  it  is  above  the  reach  of 
Fortune  herself.  "  But  the  way  by  which  we  are  asked  to 
climb  is  steep  and  uneven."  What  then  ?  Can  heights  be 
reached  by  a  level  path  ?  Yet  they  are  not  so  sheer  and 
precipitous  as  some  think.     It  is  only  the  first  part  that 


CH.  II.]  ON    THE    FIEMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  23 

has  rocks  and  cliffs  and  no  apparent  outlet,  just  as  many 
hills  seen  from  a  long  way  off  appear  abruptly  steep  and 
joined  together,  because  the  distance  deceives  our  sight, 
and  then,  as  we  draw  nearer,  those  very  hills  Avhich  our 
mistaken  eyes  had  made  into  one  gradually  unfold  them- 
selves, those  parts  which  seemed  precipitous  from  'afar 
assume  a  gently  sloping  outline.  When  just  now  mention 
was  made  of  Marcus  Cato,  you  whose  mind  revolts  at 
injustice  were  indignant  at  Cato's  own  age  having  so  little 
understood  him,  at  its  having  allotted  a  place  below 
Vatinius  to  one  who  towered  above  both  Caesar  and  Pom- 
peius;  it  seemed  shameful  to  you,  that  when  he  spoke 
against  some  law  in  the  Forum  his  toga  was  torn  from  him, 
and  that  he  was  hustled  through  the  hands  of  a  mutinous 
mob  from  the  Rostra  as  far  as  the  arch  of  Fabius,  enduring 
all  the  bad  language,  spitting,  and  other  insults  of  the 
frantic  rabble. 

II.  I  then  answered,  that  you  had  good  cause  to  be 
anxious  on  behalf  of  the  commonwealth,  which  Publius 
Clodius  on  the  one  side,  Yatinius  and  all  the  greatest 
scoundrels  on  the  other,  were  putting  up  for  sale,  and,  car- 
tied  away  by  their  blind  covetousness,  did  not  understand 
that  when  they  sold  it  they  themselves  were  sold  with  it ; 
I  bade  you  have  no  fears  on  behalf  of  Cato  himself, 
because  the  wise  man  can  neither  receive  injury  nor  insult, 
and  it  is  more  certain  that  the  immortal  gods  have  given 
Cato  as  a  pattern  of  a  wise  man  to  us,  than  that  they  gave 
Ulysses  or  Hercules  to  the  earlier  ages;  for  these  our 
Stoics  have  declared  were  wise  men,  unconquered  by 
labours,  despisers  of  pleasure,  and  superior  to  all  terrors. 
Cato  did  not  slay  wild  beasts,  whose  pursuit  belongs  to 
huntsmen  and  countrymen,  nor  did  he  exterminate  fabu- 
lous creatures  with  fire  and  sword,  or  live  in  times  when  it 
was  possible  to  believe  that  the  heavens  could  be  supported 
on  the  shoulders  of  one  man.    In  an  age  which  had  thrown 


24  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

off  its  belief  in  antiquated  superstitions,  and  had  carried  ma- 
terial knowledge  to  its  highest  point,  he  had  to  struggle 
against  that  many-headed  monster,  ambition,  against  that 
boundless  lust  for  power  which  the  whole  world  divided 
among  three  men  could  not  satisfy.  He  alone  withstood  the 
vices  of  a  worn-out  State,  sinking  into  ruin  through  its  own 
bulk ;  he  upheld  the  falling  commonwealth  as  far  as  it 
could  be  upheld  by  one  man's  hand,  until  at  last  his  sup- 
port was  withdrawn,  and  he  shared  the  crash  which  he 
had  so  long  averted,  and  perished  together  with  that  from 
which  it  was  impious  to  separate  him — for  Cato  did  not 
outlive  freedom,  nor  did  freedom  outlive  Cato.  Think  you 
that  the  people  could  do  any  wrong  to  such  a  man  when 
they  tore  away  his  praetorship  or  his  toga  ?  when  they  be- 
spattered his  sacred  head  with  the  rinsings  of  their  mouths  ? 
The  wise  man  is  safe,  and  no  injury  or  insult  can  touch 
him. 

111.  I  think  I  see  your  excited  and  boiling  temper.  You 
are  preparing  to  exclaim :  "  These  are  the  things  which 
take  away  all  weight  from  your  maxims  ;  you  promise  great 
matters,  such  as  I  should  not  even  wish  for,  let  alone 
believe  to  be  possible,  and  then,  after  all  your  brave  words, 
though  you  say  that  the  wise  man  is  not  poor,  you  admit 
that  he  often  is  in  want  of  servants,  shelter,  and  food. 
You  say  that  the  wise  man  is  not  mad,  yet  you  admit  that 
he  sometimes  loses  his  reason,  talks  nonsense,  and  is  driven 
to  the  wildest  actions  by  the  stress  of  his  disorder.  When 
you  say  that  the  wise  man  cannot  be  a  slave,  you  do  not 
deny  that  he  will  be  sold,  carry  out  orders,  and  perform 
menial  services  at  the  bidding  of  his  master;  so,  for  all 
your  proud  looks,  you  come  down  to  the  level  of  every 
one  else,  and  merely  call  things  by  different  names. 
Consequently,  I  suspect  that  something  of  this  kind  lurks 
behind  this  maxim,  which  at  first  sight  appears  so  beauti- 
ful and  noble,    '  that   the   wise  man  can  neither  receive 


CH.  III.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  25 

injury  nor  insult.'  It  makes  a  great  deal  of  difference 
whether  you  declare  that  the  wise  man  is  beyond  feeling 
resentment,  or  beyond  receiving  injury  ;  for  if  you  say  that 
he  will  bear  it  calmly,  he  has  no  special  privilege  in  that, 
for  he  has  developed  a  very  common  quality,  and  one 
which  is  learned  by  long  endurance  of  wrong  itself,  namely, 
patience.  If  you  declare  that  he  can  never  receive  an 
injury,  that  is,  that  no  one  will  attempt  to  do  him  one,  then 
I  will  throw  up  all  my  occupations  in  life  and  become  a 
Stoic." 

It  has  not  been  my  object  to  decorate  the  wise  man  with 
mere  imaginary  verbal  honours,  but  to  raise  him  to  a  posi- 
tion where  no  injury  will  be  permitted  to  reach  him. 
"  What  ?  will  there  be  no  one  to  tease  him,  to  try  to  wrong 
him  ?  "  There  is  nothing  on  earth  so  sacred  as  not  to  be 
liable  to  sacrilege ;  yet  holy  things  exist  on  high  none  the 
less  because  there  are  men  who  strike  at  a  greatness  which 
is  far  above  themselves,  though  with  no  hope  of  reaching  it. 
The  invulnerable  is  not  that  which  is  never  struck,  but 
that  which  is  never  wounded.  In  this  class  I  will  show 
you  the  wise  man.  Can  we  doubt  that  the  strength 
which  is  never  overcome  in  fight  is  more  to  be  relied  on 
than  that  which  is  never  challenged,  seeing  that  untested 
power  is  untrustworthy,  whereas  that  solidity  which  hurls 
back  all  attacks  is  deservedty  regarded  as  the  most  trust- 
worthy of  all  ?  In  like  manner  you  may  know  that  the 
wise  man,  if  no  injury  hurts  him,  is  of  a  higher  type  than 
if  none  is  offered  to  him,  and  I  should  call  him  a  brave 
man  whom  war  does  not  subdue  and  the  violence  of  the 
enemy  does  not  alarm,  not  him  who  enjoys  luxurious  ease 
amid  a  slothful  people.  I  say,  then,  that  such  a  wise  man 
is  invulnerable  against  all  injury;  it  matters  not,  therefore, 
how  many  darts  be  hurled  at  him,  since  he  can  be  pierced 
by  none  of  them.  Just  as  the  hardness  of  some  stones  is 
impervious    to    steel,   and   adamant   can   neither   be   cut, 


26  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

broken,  or  ground,  but  blunts  all  instruments  used  upon 
it ;  just  as  some  things  cannot  be  destroyed  by  fire,  but 
when  encircled  by  flame  still  retain  their  hardness  and 
shape ;  just  as  some  tall  projecting  cliifs  break  the  waves 
of  the  sea,  and  though  lashed  by  them  through  many 
centuries,  yet  show  no  traces  of  their  rage ;  even  so  the 
mind  of  the  wise  man  is  firm,  and  gathers  so  much  strength, 
that  it  is  as  safe  from  injury  as  any  of  those  things  which 
I  have  mentioned. 

IV.  "  What  then  ?  "Will  there  be  no  one  who  will  try  to 
do  an  injury  to  the  wise  man  ?  "  Yes,  some  one  will  try,  but 
the  injury  will  not  reach  him  ;  for  he  is  separated  from  the 
contact  of  his  inferiors  by  so  wide  a  distance  that  no  evil 
impulse  can  retain  its  power  of  harm  until  it  reaches  him. 
Even  when  powerful  men,  raised  to  positions  of  high 
authority,  and  strong  in  the  obedience  of  their  dependents, 
strive  to  injure  him,  all  their  darts  fall  as  far  short  of  his 
wisdom  as  those  which  are  shot  upwards  by  bowstrings  or 
catapults,  which,  although  they  rise  so  high  as  to  pass  out 
of  sight,  yet  fall  back  again  without  reaching  the  heavens. 
Why,  do  you  suppose  that  when  that  stupid  king^ 
clouded  the  daylight  with  the  multitude  of  his  darts,  that 
any  arrow  of  them  all  went  into  the  sun  ?  or  that  when  he 
flung  his  chains  into  the  deep,  that  he  was  able  to  reach 
Neptune  ?  Just  as  sacred  things  escape  from  the  hands  of 
men,  and  no  injury  is  done  to  the  godhead  by  those  who 
destroy  temples  and  melt  down  images,  so  whoever  at- 
tempts to  treat  the  wise  man  with  impertinence,  insolence, 
or  scorn,  does  so  in  vain.  "  It  would  be  better,"  say  you, 
"if  no  one  wished  to  do  so."  You  are  expressing  a  wish 
that  the  whole  human  race  were  inoffensive,  which  may 
hardly  be ;  moreover,  those  who  would  gain  by  such  wrongs 
not  being  done  are  those  who  would  do  them,  not  he  who 
could  not  suffer  from  them  even  if  they  were  done ;  nay,  I 
'  Xerxes. 


CH.  v.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  27 

know  not  whether  wisdom  is  not  best  displayed  by  calm- 
ness in  the  midst  of  annoyances,  just  as  the  greatest  proof 
of  a  general's  strength  in  arms  and  men  consists  in  his  quiet- 
ness and  confidence  in  the  midst  of  an  enemy's  country. 

V.  If  you  think  fit,  my  Serenus,  let  us  distinguish  be- 
tween injury  and  insult.  The  former  is  naturally  the 
more  grievous,  the  latter  less  important,  and  grievous  only 
to  the  thin-skinned,  since  it  angers  men  but  does  not 
wound  them.  Yet  such  is  the  weakness  of  men's  minds, 
that  many  think  that  there  is  nothing  more  bitter  than 
insult ;  thus  you  will  find  slaves  who  prefer  to  be  flogged 
to  being  slapped,  and  who  think  stripes  and  death  more 
endurable  than  insulting  words.  To  such  a  pitch  of  ab- 
surdity have  we  come  that  we  suffer  not  only  from  pain, 
but  from  the  idea  of  pain,  like  children,  who  are  terror- 
stricken  by  darkness,  misshapen  masks,  and  distorted 
faces,  and  whose  tears  flow  at  hearing  names  unpleasing  to 
their  ears,  at  the  movement  of  our  fingers,  and  other 
things  which  they  ignorantly  shrink  from  with  a  sort  of 
mistaken  spasm.  The  object  which  injury  proposes  to 
itself  is  to  do  evil  to  some  one.  Now  wisdom  leaves  no 
room  for  evil ;  to  it,  the  only  evil  is  baseiiess,  which  cannot 
enter  into  the  place  already  occupied  by  virtue  and  honour. 
If,  therefore,  there  can  be  no  injury  without  evil,  and  no 
evil  without  baseness,  and  baseness  cannot  find  any  place 
with  a  man  who  is  already  filled  with  honour,  it  follows 
that  no  injury  can  reach  the  wise  man;  for  if  injury  be 
the  endurance  of  some  evil,  and  the  wise  man  can  endure 
no  evil,  it  follows  that  no  injury  takes  effect  upon  the  wise 
man.  All  injury  implies  a  making  less  of  that  which  it 
affects,  and  no  one  can  sustain  an  injury  without  some  loss 
either  of  his  dignity,  or  of  some  part  of  his  body,  or  of 
some  of  the  things  external  to  ourselves ;  but  the  wise  man 
can  lose  nothing.  He  has  invested  everything  in  himself, 
has  entrusted  nothing  to  fortune,  has  his  property  in  safety, 


28  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

and  is  content  with  virtue,  which  does  not  need  casual 
accessories,  and  therefore  can  neither  be  increased  or  dimi- 
nished ;  for  virtue,  as  having  attained  to  the  highest  posi- 
tion, has  no  room  for  addition  to  herself,  and  fortune 
can  take  nothing  away  save  what  she  gave.  Now  fortune 
does  not  give  virtue ;  therefore  she  does  not  take  it  away. 
Virtue  is  free,  inviolable,  not  to  be  moved,  not  to  be  shaken, 
and  so  hardened  against  misfortunes  that  she  cannot  be 
bent,  let  alone  overcome  by  them.  She  looks  unfalteringly 
on  while  tortures  are  being  prepared  for  her  ;  she  makes  no 
change  of  countenance,  whether  misery  or  pleasure  be 
offered  to  her.  The  wise  man  therefore  can  lose  nothing 
of  whose  loss  he  will  be  sensible,  for  he  is  the  property  of 
virtue  alone,  from  whom  he  never  can  be  taken  away.  He 
enjoys  all  other  things  at  the  good  pleasure  of  fortune ; 
but  who  is  grieved  at  the  loss  of  what  is  not  his  own  ?  If 
injury  can  hurt  none  of  those  things  which  are  the  peculiar 
property  of  the  wise  man,  because  while  his  virtue  is  safe 
they  are  safe,  then  it  is  impossible  that  an  injury  should  be 
done  to  a  wise  man.  Demetrius,  who  was  surnamed 
Poliorcetes,  took  Megara,  and  the  philosopher  Stilbo,  when 
asked  by  him  whether  he  had  lost  anything,  answered,  "  No, 
I  carry  all  my  property  abdut  me."  Yet  his  inheritance  had 
been  given  up  to  pillage,  his  daughters  had  been  outraged 
by  the  enemy,  his  country  had  fallen  under  a  foreign 
dominion,  and  it  was  the  king,  enthroned  on  high,  sur- 
rounded by  the  spears  of  his  victorious  troops,  who  put 
this  question  to  him ;  yet  he  struck  the  victory  out  of  the 
king's  hands,  and  proved  that,  though  the  city  was  taken, 
he  himself  was  not  only  unconquered  but  unharmed,  for  he 
bore  with  him  those  true  goods  which  no  one  can  lay 
hands  upon.  What  was  being  plundered  and  carried  away 
hither  and  thither  he  did  not  consider  to  be  his  own,  but 
to  be  merely  things  which  come  and  go  at  the  caprice  of 
fortune ;  therefore  he  had  not  loved  them  as  his  own,  for 


CH.  VI.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF   THE    WISE    MAN.  29 

the  possession  of  all  things  which  come  from  without  is 
slippery  and  insecnre. 

VI.  Consider  now,  whether  any  thief,  or  false  accuser, 
or  headstrong  neighbour,  or  rich  man  enjoying  the  power 
conferred  by  a  childless  old  age,  could  do  any  injury  to  this 
man,  from  whom  neither  war  nor  an  enemy  whose  profes- 
sion was  the  noble  art  of  battering  city  walls  could  take 
away  anything.  Amid  the  flash  of  swords  on  all  sides, 
and  the  riot  of  the  plundering  soldiery,  amid  the  flames 
and  blood  and  ruin  of  the  fallen  city,  amid  the  crash  of 
temples  falling  upon  their  gods,  one  man  was  at  peace. 
You  need  not  therefore  account  that  a  reckless  boast, 
for  which  I  will  give  you  a  surety,  if  my  words  goes  for 
nothing.  Indeed,  you  would  hardly  believe  so  much  con- 
stancy or  such  greatness  of  mind  to  belong  to  any  man ; 
but  here  a  man  comes  forward  to  prove  that  you  have  no 
reason  for  doubting  that  one  who  is  but  of  human  birth 
can  raise  himself  above  human  necessities,  can  tranquilly 
behold  pains,  losses,  diseases,  wounds,  and  great  natural 
convulsions  roaring  around  him,  can  bear  adversity  with, 
calm  and  prosperity  with  moderation,  neither  yielding  to 
the  former  nor  trusting  to  the  latter,  that  he  can  remain 
the  same  amid  all  varieties  of  fortune,  and  think  nothing 
to  be  his  own  save  himself,  and  himself  too  only  as  regards 
his  better  part.  "  Behold,"  says  he,  "  I  am  here  to  prove 
to  you  that  although,  under  the  direction  of  that  destroyer 
of  so  many  cities,  walls  may  be  shaken  by  the  stroke  of  the 
ram,  lofty  towers  may  be  suddenly  brought  low  by  gal- 
leries and  hidden  mines,  and  mounds  arise  so  high  as  to 
rival  the  highest  citadel,  yet  that  no  siege  engines  can  be 
discovered  which  can  shake-ft-  well-established  mind.  I 
have  just  crept  from  amid  the  ruins  of  my  house,  and  with 
conflagrations  blazing  all  around  I  have  escaped  from  the 
flames  through  blood.  What  fate  has  befallen  my  daugh- 
ters, whether  a  worse  one  than  that  of  their  country,  I 


30  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IT. 

know  not.  Alone  and  elderly,  and  seeing  everything  around 
me  in  the  hands  of  the  enemy,  still  I  declare  that  my  pro- 
perty is  whole  and  untouched.  I  have,  I  hold  whatever  of 
mine  I  have  ever  had.  There  is  no  reason  for  you  to  sup- 
pose me  conquered  and  yourself  my  conqueror.  It  is 
your  fortune  which  has  overcome  mine.  As  for  those 
fleeting  possessions  which  change  their  owners,  I  know  not 
where  they  are ;  what  belongs  to  myself  is  with  me,  and 
ever  will  be.  I  see  rich  men  who  have  lost  their  estates  ; 
lustful  men  who  have  lost  their  loves,  the  courtesans  whom 
they  cherished  at  the  cost  of  much  shame ;  ambitious  men 
who  have  lost  the  senate,  the  law  courts,  the  places  set 
apart  for  the  public  display  of  men's  vices ;  usurers  who 
have  lost  their  account-books,  in  which  avarice  vainly  en- 
joyed an  unreal  wealth ;  but  I  possess  everything  whole 
and  uninjured.  Leave  me,  and  go  and  ask  those  who  are 
weeping  and  lamenting  over  the  loss  of  their  money,  who 
are  offering  their  bare  breasts  to  drawn  swords  in  its 
defence,  or  who  are  fleeing  from  the  enemy  with  weighty 
pockets."  See  then,  Serenus,  that  the  perfect  man,  full  of 
human  and  divine  virtues,  can  lose  nothing  ;  his  goods  are 
surrounded  by  strong  and  impassable  walls.  You  cannot 
compare  with  them  the  walls  of  Babylon,  which  Alexander 
entered,  nor  the  fortifications  of  Carthage  and  Numantia, 
won  by  one  and  the  same  hand,^  nor  the  Capitol  and  citadel 
of  Rome,  which  are  branded  with  the  marks  of  the  victors' 
insults  ;  the  ramparts  which  protect  the  wise  man  are  safe 
from  fire  and  hostile  invasion  ;  they  afford  no  passage;  they 
are  lofty,  impregnable,  divine. 

VII.  You  have  no  cause  for  saying,  as  you  are  wont  to 
do,  that  this  wise  man  of  ours^  is  nowhere  to  be  found;  we 
do  not  invent  him  as  an  unreal  glory  of  the  human  race,  or 
conceive  a  mighty  shadow  of  an  untruth,  but  we  have  dis- 
played and  will  display  him  just  as  we  sketch  him,  though 
^  Scipio.  ^  The  Stoics. 


CH.  VII.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF   THE    WISE    MAN.  31 

he  may  perhaj^s  be  uncominoii,  and  only  one  appears  at 
long  intervals  ;  for  what  is  great  and  transcends  the  common 
ordinary  type  is  not  often  produced  ;  but  this  very  Marcus 
Cato  himself,  the  mention  of  whom  started  this  discussion, 
was  a  man  who  I  fancy  even  surpassed  our  model.  More- 
over, that  which  hurts  must  be  stronger  than  that  which  is 
hurt.  Now  wickedness  is  not  stronger  than  virtue ;  therefore 
the  wise  man  cannot  be  hurt.  Only  the  bad  attempt  to 
injure  the  good.  Good  men  are  at  peace  among  themselves; 
bad  ones  are  equally  mischievous  to  the  good  and  to  one 
another.  If  a  man  cannot  be  hurt  by  one  weaker  than 
himself,  and  a  bad  man  be  weaker  than  a  good  one,  and 
the  good  have  no  injury  to  dread,  except  from  one  unlike 
themselves ;  then,  no  injury  takes  effect  upon  the  wise  man  ; 
for  by  this  time  I  need  not  remind  you  that  no  one  save 
the  wise  man  is  good. 

"  If,"  says  our  adversary,  "  Socrates  was  unjustly 
condemned,  he  received  an  injury."  At  this  point  it 
is  needful  for  us  to  bear  in  mind  that  it  is  possible 
for  some  one  to  do  an  injury  to  me,  and  yet  for  me  not  to 
receive  it,  as  if  any  one  were  to  steal  something  from  my 
country-house  and  leave  it  in  my  town-house,  that  man 
would  commit  a  theft,  yet  I  should  lose  nothing.  A  man 
may  become  mischievous,  and  yet  do  no  actual  mischief  : 
if  a  man  lies  with  his  own  wife  as  if  she  were  a  stranger, 
he  will  commit  adultery,  but  his  wife  will  not ;  if  a  man 
gives  me  poison  and  the  poison  lose  its  strength  when 
mixed  with  food,  that  man,  by  administering  the  poison, 
has  made  himself  a  criminal,  even  though  he  has  done  no 
hurt.  A  man  is  no  less  a  brigand  because  his  sword 
becomes  entangled  in  his  victim's  clothes  and  misses  its 
mark.  All  crimes,  as  far  as  concerns  their  criminality,  are 
completed  before  the  actual  deed  is  accomplished.  Some 
crimes  are  of  such  a  nature  and  bound  by  such  conditions 
that  the  first   part   can   take  place  without  the   second, 


32  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  II. 

though  the  second  cannot  take  place  without  the  first.  I 
will  endeavour  to  explain  these  words  :  I  can  move  my 
feet  and  yet  not  run ;  but  I  cannot  run  without  moving 
my  feet.  I  can  be  in  the  water  without  swimming ;  but  if 
I  swim,  I  cannot  help  being  in  the  water.  The  matter  of 
which  we  are  treating  is  of  this  character :  if  I  have  re- 
ceived an  injury,  it  is  necessary  that  some  one  must  have 
done  it  to  me ;  but  if  an  injury  has  been  done  me,  it  is  not 
necessary  that  I  should  have  received  one ;  for  many  cir- 
cumstances may  intervene  to  avert  the  injury,  as,  for 
example,  some  chance  may  strike  the  hand  that  is  aiming 
at  us,  and  the  dart,  after  it  has  been  thrown,  may  swerve 
aside.  So  injuries  of  all  kinds  may  by  certain  circumstances 
be  thrown  back  and  intercepted  in  mid-course,  so  that  they 
may  be  done  and  yet  not  received. 

VIII.  Moreover,  justice  can  suffer  nothing  unjust,  because 
contraries  cannot  co-exist;  but  an  injury  can  only  be  done 
unjustly,  therefore  an  injury  cannot  be  done  to  the  wise 
man.  Nor  need  you  wonder  at  no  one  being  able  to  do  him 
an  injury ;  for  no  one  can  do  him  any  good  service  either. 
The  wise  man  lacks  nothing  which  he  can  accept  by  way 
of  a  present,  and  the  bad  man  can  bestow  nothing  that  is 
worthy  of  the  wise  man's  acceptance  ;  for  he  must  possess 
it  before  he  can  bestow  it,  and  he  possesses  nothing  which 
the  wise  man  would  rejoice  to  have  handed  over  to  him. 
Consequently,  no  one  can  do  either  harm  or  good  to  the 
wise  man,  because  divine  things  neither  want  help  nor  are 
capable  of  being  hurt ;  and  the  wise  man  is  near,  indeed 
very  near  to  the  gods,  being  like  a  god  in  every  respect 
save  that  he  is  mortal.  As  he  presses  forward  and  makes 
his  way  towards  the  life  that  is  sublime,  well-ordered, 
without  fear,  proceeding  in  a  regular  and  harmonious 
course,  tranquil,  beneficent,  made  for  the  good  of  mankind, 
useful  both  to  itself  and  to  others,  he  will  neither  long  nor 
weep  for  anything  that  is  grovelling.     He  who,  trusting  to 


CH.  IX.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  33 

reason,  passes  through  human  affairs  with  godlike  mind, 
has  no  quarter  from  which  he  can  receive  injury.  Do  you 
suppose  that  I  mean  merely  from  no  man  ?  He  cannot 
receive  an  injury  even  from  fortune,  which,  whenever  she 
contends  with  virtue,  always  retires  beaten.  If  we  accept 
with  an  undisturbed  and  tranquil  mind  that  greatest  terror 
of  all,  beyond  which  the  angry  laws  and  the  most  cruel 
masters  have  nothing  to  threaten  us  with,  in  which 
fortune's  dominion  is  contained — if  we  know  that  death  is 
not  an  evil,  and  therefore  is  not  an  injury  either,  we  shall 
much  more  easily  endure  the  other  things,  such  as  losses, 
pains,  disgraces,  changes  of  abode,  bereavements,  and 
partings,  which  do  not  overwhelm  the  wise  man  even  if 
they  all  befall  him  at  once,  much  less  does  he  grieve  at 
them  when  they  assail  him  separately.  And  if  he  bears 
the  injuries  of  fortune  calmly,  how  much  more  will  he  bear 
those  of  powerful  men,  whom  he  knows  to  be  the  hands  of 
fortune. 

IX.  He  therefore  endures  everything  in  the  same  spirit 
with  which  he  endures  the  cold  of  winter  and  the  severities 
of  climate,  fevers,  diseases,  and  other  chance  accidents,  nor 
does  he  entertain  so  high  an  opinion  of  any  man  as  to 
suppose  that  he  acts  of  set  purpose,  which  belongs  to 
the  wise  man  alone.  All  other  men  have  no  plans,  but 
only  plots  and  deceits  and  irregular  impulses  of  mind, 
which  he  reckons  the  same  as  pure  accident;  now,  what 
depends  upon  pure  accident  cannot  rage  around  us  de- 
signedly. He  reflects,  also,  that  the  largest  sources  of 
injury  are  to  be  found  in  those  things  by  means  of  which 
danger  is  sought  for  against  us,  as,  for  example,  by  a 
suborned  accuser,  or  a  false  charge,  or  by  the  stirring  up 
against  us  of  the  anger  of  great  men,  and  the  other  forms 
of  the  brigandage  of  civilized  life.  Another  common  tj'pe 
of  injury  is  when  a  man  loses  some  profit  or  prize  for  which 
he  has  long  been  angling,  when  an  inheritance  which  he 

D 


34  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

has  spent  great  pains  to  render  his  own  is  left  to  some  one 
else,  or  the  favonr  of  some  noble  house,  through  which  he 
makes  great  gain,  is  taken  from  him.  The  wise  man 
escapes  all  this,  since  he  knows  not  what  it  is  to  live  for 
hope  or  for  fear.  Add  to  this,  that  no  one  receives  an 
injury  unmoved,  but  is  disturbed  by  the  feeling  of  it. 
Now,  the  man  free  from  mistakes  has  no  disturbance ; 
he  is  master  of  himself,  enjoying  a  deep  and  tranquil 
repose  of  mind ;  for  if  an  injury  reaches  him  it  moves  and 
rouses  him.  But  the  wise  man  is  without  anger,  which  is 
caused  by  the  appearance  of  injury,  and  he  could  not  be 
free  from  anger  unless  he  were  also  free  from  injury,  which 
he  knows  cannot  be  done  to  him ;  hence  it  is  that  he  is  so 
upright  and  cheerful,  hence  he  is  elate  with  constant  joy. 
So  far,  however,  is  he  from  shrinking  from  the  encounter 
eithef  of  circumstances  or  of  men,  that  he  makes  use  of 
injury  itself  to  make  trial  of  himself  and  test  his  own 
virtue.  Let  us,  I  beseech  you,  show  favour  to  this  thesis 
and  listen  with  impartial  ears  and  minds  while  the  wise  man 
is  being  made  exempt  from  injury  ;  for  nothing  is  thereby 
taken  away  from  your  insolence,  your  greediest  lusts, 
your  blind  rashness  and  pride ;  it  is  without  prejudice  to 
your  vices  that  this  freedom  is  sought  for  the  wise  man  ; 
we  do  not  strive  to  prevent  your  doing  an  injury,  but 
to  enable  him  to  sink  all  injuries  beneath  himself  and  protect 
himself  from  them  by  his  own  greatness  of  mind.  So  in 
the  sacred  games  many  have  won  the  victory  by  patiently 
enduring  the  blows  of  their  adversaries  and  so  wearying 
them  out.  Think  that  the  wise  man  belongs  to  this  class, 
that  of  men  who,  by  long  and  faithful  practice,  have  acquired 
strength  to  endure  and  tire  out  all  the  violence  of  their 
enemies. 

X.  Since  we  have  now  discussed  the  first  part  of  our 
subject,  let  us  pass  on  to  the  second,  in  which  we  will 
prove   by  arguments,   some  of  which   are   our   own,  but 


CH.  X.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS   OP    THE    WISE    MAN.  35 

which  for  the  most  part  are  Stoic  commonplaces,  that  the 
wise  man  cannot  be  insulted.  There  is  a  lesser  form  of 
injury,  which  we  must  complain  of  rather  than  avenge, 
which  the  laws  also  have  considered  not  to  deserve  any- 
special  punishment.  This  passion  is  produced  by  a  mean- 
ness of  mind  which  shrinks  at  any  act  or  deed,  which  treats 
it  with  disrespect.  "  He  did  not  admit  me  to  his  house 
to-day,  although  he  admitted  others ;  he  either  turned 
haughtily  away  or  openly  laughed  when  I  spoke;"  or,  "he 
placed  me  at  dinner,  not  on  the  middle  couch  (the  place  of 
honour),  but  on  the  lowest  one  ;"  and  other  matters  of  the 
same  sort,  which  I  can  call  nothing  but  the  whinings  of  a 
queasy  spirit.  These  matters  chiefly  affect  the  luxuriously- 
nurtured  and  prosperous ;  for  those  who  are  pressed  by 
worse  evils  have  no  time  to  notice  such  things  as  these. 
Through  excessive  idleness,  dispositions  naturally  weak 
and  womanish  and  prone  to  indulge  in  fancies  through  want 
of  real  injuries  are  disturbed  at  these  things,  the  greater 
part  of  which  arise  from  misunderstanding.  He  therefore 
who  is  affected  by  insult  shows  that  he  possesses  neither 
sense  nor  trustfulness ;  for  he  considers  it  certain  that  he 
is  scorned,  and  this  vexation  affects  him  with  a  certain 
sense  of  degradation,  as  he  effaces  himself  and  takes  a  lower 
room ;  whereas  the  wise  man  is  scorned  by  no  one,  for  he 
knows  his  own  greatness,  gives  himself  to  understand  that 
he  allows  no  one  to  have  such  power  over  him,  and  as  for 
all  of  what  I  should  not  so  much  call  distress  as  uneasiness 
of  mind,  he  does  not  overcome  it,  but  never  so  much  as 
feels  it.  Some  other  things  strike  the  wise  man,  though 
they  may  not  shake  his  principles,  such  as  bodily  pain  and 
weakness,  the  loss  of  friends  and  children,  and  the  ruin  of 
his  country  in  war-time.  I  do  not  say  that  the  wise  man 
does  not  feel  these,  for  we  do  not  ascribe  to  him  the  hard- 
ness of  stone  or  iron ;  there  is  no  virtue  but  is  conscious  of 
its  own  endurance.    What  then  does  he  ?    He  receives  some 


36  MINOR    DIALOGUES  [bK.  II. 

blows,  but  wben  he  has  received  them  he  rises  superior  to 
them,  heals  them,  and  brings  them  to  an  end ;  these  more 
trivial  things  he  does  not  even  feel,  nor  does  he  make  use 
of  his  accustomed  fortitude  in  the  endurance  of  evil  against 
them,  but  either  takes  no  notice  of  them  or  considers  them 
to  deserve  to  be  laughed  at. 

XI.  Besides  this,  as  most  insults  proceed  from  those  who 
are  haughty  and  arrogant  and  bear  their  prosperity  ill,  he 
has  something  wherewith  to  repel  this  haughty  passion, 
namely,  that  noblest  of  all  the  virtues,  magnanimity,  which 
passes  over  everything  of  that  kind  as  like  unreal  apparitions 
in  dreams  and  visions  of  the  night,  which  have  nothing  in 
them  substantial  or  true.  At  the  same  time  he  reflects 
that  all  men  are  too  low  to  venture  to  look  down  upon 
what  is  so  far  above  them.  The  Latin  word  contumelia  is 
derived  from  the  word  contempt,  because  no  one  does  that 
injury  to  another  unless  he  regards  him  with  contempt ; 
and  no  one  can  treat  his  elders  and  betters  with  contempt, 
even  though  he  does  what  contemptuous  persons  are  wont 
to  do ;  for  children  strike  their  parents'  faces,  infants 
rumple  and  tear  their  mother's  hair,  and  spit  upon  her  and 
expose  what  should  be  covered  before  her,  and  do  not 
shrink  from  using  dirty  language ;  yet  we  do  not  call  any 
of  these  things  contemptuous.  And  why  ?  Because  he  who 
does  it  is  not  able  to  show  contempt.  For  the  same  reason 
the  scurrilous  raillery  of  our  slaves  against  their  masters 
amuses  us,  as  their  boldness  only  gains  licence  to  exercise 
itself  at  the  expense  of  the  guests  if  they  begin  with  the 
master;  and  the  more  contemptible  and  the  more  an  object 
of  derision  each  one  of  them  is,  the  greater  licence  he  gives 
his  tongue.  Some  buy  forward  slave-boys  for  this  purpose, 
cultivate  their  scurrility  and  send  them  to  school  that  they 
may  vent  premeditated  libels,  which  we  do  not  call  insults, 
but  smart  sayings  ;  yet  what  madness,  at  one  time  to  be 
amused  and  at  another  to  be  affronted  by  the  same  thing. 


CH.  XII.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  37 

and  to  call  a  phrase  an  outrage  when  spoken  by  a  friend, 
and  an  amusing  piece  of  raillery  when  used  by  a  slave- 
boy ! 

XII.  In  the  same  spirit  in  which  we  deal  with  boys,  the 
wise  man  deals  with  all  those  whose  childhood  still  endures 
after  their  youth  is  past  and  their  hair  is  grey.  What  do 
men  profit  by  age  when  their  mind  has  all  the  faults  of 
childhood  and  their  defects  are  intensified  by  time  ?  when 
they  differ  from  children  only  in  the  size  and  appearance 
of  their  bodies,  and  are  just  as  unsteady  and  capricious, 
eager  for  pleasure  without  discrimination,  timorous  and 
quiet  through  fear  rather  than  through  natural  disposition? 
One  cannot  say  that  such  men  differ  from  children  because 
the  latter  are  greedy  for  knuckle-bones  and  nuts  and 
coppers,  while  the  former  are  greedy  for  gold  and  silver 
and  cities  ;  because  the  latter  play  amongst  themselves  at 
being  magistrates,  and  imitate  the  purple- edged  robe  of 
state,  the  lictors'  axes,  and  the  judgment-seat,  while  the 
former  play  with  the  same  things  in  earnest  in  the  Campns 
Martins  and  the  courts  of  justice ;  because  the  latter  pile 
up  the  sand  on  the  seashore  into  the  likeness  of  houses, 
and  the  former,  with  an  air  of  being  engaged  in  important 
business,  employ  themselves  in  piling  up  stones  and  walls 
and  roofs  until  they  have  turned  what  was  intended  for  the 
protection  of  the  body  into  a  danger  to  it  ?  Children  and 
those  more  advanced  in  age  both  make  the  same  mistake, 
but  the  latter  deal  with  different  and  more  important 
things  ;  the  wise  man,  therefore,  is  quite  justified  in  treat- 
ing the  affronts  which  he  receives  from  such  men  as  jokes : 
and  sometimes  he  corrects  them,  as  he  would  children,  by 
pain  and  punishment,  not  because  he  has  received  an  injury, 
but  because  they  have  done  one  and  in  order  that  they 
may  do  so  no  more.  Thus  we  break  in  animals  with  stripes, 
yet  we  are  not  angry  with  them  when  they  refuse  to  carry 
their  rider,  but  curb  them  in  order  that  pain  may  overcome 


38  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

their  obstinacy.  Now,  therefore,  you  know  the  answer  to 
the  question  which  was  put  to  us,  "  Why,  if  the  wise  man 
receives  neither  injury  nor  insult,  he  punishes  those  who  do 
these  things  ?"  He  does  not  revenge  himself,  but  corrects 
them. 

XIII.  What,  then,  is  there  to  prevent  your  believing  this 
strength  of  mind  to  belong  to  the  wise  man,  when  you  can 
see  the  same  thing  existing  in  others,  though  not  from  the 
same  cause  ? — for  what  physician  is  angry  with  a  crazy 
patient  ?  who  takes  to  heart  the  curses  of  a  fever- stricken 
one  who  is  denied  cold  water  ?  The  wise  man  retains 
in  his  dealings  with  all  men  this  same  habit  of  mind  which 
the  physician  adopts  in  dealing  with  his  patients,  whose 
parts  of  shame  he  does  not  scorn  to  handle  should  they" 
need  treatment,  nor  yet  to  look  at  their  solid  and  liquid 
evacuations,  nor  to  endure  their  reproaches  when  frenzied 
by  disease.  The  wise  man  knows  that  all  those  who  strut 
about  in  purple- edged  togas, ^  healthy  and  embrowned,  are 
brain-sick  people,  whom  he  regards  as  sick  and  full  of 
follies.  He  is  not,  therefore,  angry,  should  they  in  their 
sickness  presume  to  bear  themselves  somewhat  impertinently 
towards  their  physician,  and  in  the  same  spirit  as  that  in 
which  he  sets  no  value  upon  their  titles  of  honour,  he  will 
set  but  little  value  upon  their  acts  of  disrespect  to  himself. 
He  will  not  rise  in  his  own  esteem  if  a  beggar  pays  his 
court  to  him,  and  he  will  not  think  it  an  affront  if  one  of 
the  dregs  of  the  people  does  not  return  his  greeting.  So 
also  he  will  not  admire  himself  even  if  many  rich  men 
admire  him  ;  for  he  knows  that  they  differ  in  no  respect 
from  beggars — nay,  are  even  more  wretched  than  they  ;  for 

^  Seneca  here  speaks  of  men  wearing  the  toga  as  officials,  contrasted 
with  the  mass  of  Koman  citizens,  among  whom  the  wearing  of  the  toga 
was  already  falling  into  disuse  in  the  time  of  Augustus.  See  Macrob., 
'•  Sat.,"  vi.  5  extr.,  and  Suetonius,  "  Life  of  Octavius,"'  40,  where  the 
author  mentions  that  Augustus  used  sarcastically  to  apply  the  Aerse, 
Virg.,  *-^n,,'  i.  282,  to  the  Romans  of  his  day. 


CH.  XTY.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE   MAN.  89 

beggars  want  but  a  little,  whereas  rich  men  want  a  great 
deal,  i^gain,  he  will  not  be  moved  if  the  King  of  the 
Modes,  or  Attains,  King  of  Asia,  passes  by  him  in  silence 
with  a  scornful  air  when  he  offers  his  greeting ;  for  he 
knows  that  such  a  man's  position  has  nothing  to  render  it 
more  enviable  than  that  of  the  man  whose  duty  it  is  in  some 
great  household  to  keep  the  sick  and  mad  servants  in  order. 
Shall  I  be  put  out  if  one  of  those  who  do  business  at  the 
temple  of  Castor,  buying  and  selling  worthless  slaves,  does 
not  return  my  salute,  a  man  whose  shops  are  crowded  with 
throngs  of  the  worst  of  bondmen  ?  I  trow  not ;  for  what 
good  can  there  be  in  a  man  who  owns  none  but  bad  men  ? 
As  the  wise  man  is  indifferent  to  the  courtesy  or  incivility 
of  such  a  man,  so  is  he  to  that  of  a  king.  "  You  own," 
says  he,  "  the  Parthians  and  Bactrians,  but  they  are  men 
whom  you  keep  in  order  by  fear,  they  are  people  whose 
possession  forbids  you  to  unstring  the  bow,  they  are  fierce 
enemies,  on  sale,  and  eagerly  looking  out  for  anew  master." 
He  will  not,  then,  be  moved  by  an  insult  from  any  man 
for  though  all  men  differ  one  from  another,  yet  the  wise 
man  regards  them  all  as  alike  on  account  of  their  equal 
folly  ;  for  should  he  once  lower  himself  to  the  point  of 
being  affected  by  either  injury  or  insult,  he  could  never 
feel  safe  afterwards,  and  safety  is  the  especial  advantage 
of  the  wise  man,  and  he  will  not  be  guilty  of  showing 
respect  to  the  man  who  has  done  him  an  injury  by  admitting 
that  he  has  received  one,  because  it  necessarily  follows 
that  he  who  is  disquieted  at  any  one's  scorn  would  value 
that  person's  admiration. 

XIV.  Such  madness  possesses  some  men  that  they 
imagine  it  possible  for  an  affront  to  be  put  upon  them  by  a 
woman.  What  matters  it  who  she  may  be,  how  many 
slaves  bear  her  litter,  how  heavily  her  ears  are  laden,  how 
soft  her  seat?  she  is  always  the  same  thoughtless  crea- 
ture,  and   unless  she  possesses  acquired   knowledge   and 


40  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

much  learning,  she  is  fierce  and  passionate  in  her  desires. 
Some  are  annoyed  at  being  jostled  by  a  heater  of  curling- 
tongs,  and  call  the  reluctance  of  a  great  man's  porter  to 
open  the  door,  the  pride  of  his  nomenclator,'  or  the  disdain- 
fulness of  his  chamberlain,  insults.  0  !  what  laughter  is 
to  be  got  out  of  such  things,  with  what  amusement  the 
mind  may  be  filled  when  it  contrasts  the  frantic  follies  of 
others  with  its  own  peace  !  "  How  then  ?  will  the  wise  man 
not  approach  doors  which  are  kept  by  a  surly  porter  ?  "  Nay, 
if  any  need  calls  him  thither,  he  will  make  trial  of  him,  how- 
ever fierce  he  may  be,  will  tame  him  as  one  tames  a  dog  by 
offering  it  food,  and  will  not  be  enraged  at  having  to  expend 
entrance-money,  reflecting  that  on  certain  bridges  also  one 
has  to  pay  toll ;  in  like  fashion  he  will  pay  his  fee  to  who- 
ever farms  this  revenue  of  letting  in  visitors,  for  he  knows 
that  men  are  wont  to  buy  whatever  is  offered  for  sale.^  A  man 
shows  a  poor  spirit  if  he  is  pleased  with  himself  for  having 
answered  the  porter  cavalierly,  broken  his  staff,  forced  his 
way  into  his  master's  presence,  and  demanded  a  whipping 
for  him.  He  who  strives  with  a  man  makes  himself  that 
man's  rival,  and  must  be  on  equal  terms  with  him  before 
he  can  overcome  him.  But  what  will  the  wise  man  do  when 
he  receives  a  cuff  ?  He  will  do  as  Cato  did  when  he  was 
struck  in  the  face ;  he  did  not  flare  up  and  revenge  the 
outrage,  he  did  not  even  pardon  it,  but  ignored  it,  showing 
more  magnanimity  in  not  acknowledging  it  than  if  he  had 
forgiven  it.  We  will  not  dwell  long  upon  this  point ;  for 
who  is  there  who  knows  not  that  none  of  those  things 
which  are  thought  to  be  good  or  evil  are  looked  upon  by 
the  wise  man  and  by  mankind  in  general  in  the  same 
manner  ?  He  does  not  regard  what  all  men  think  low  or 
wretched ;  he  does  not  follow  the  people's  track,  but  as  the 

1  See  note,  "  De  Beneficiis,"  vi.  33. 

^  Gertz  reads  '  decet  emere  venalia,'  '  there  is  no  harm  in  buying 
what  is  for  sale.' 


CH.  XV.]  ON    THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  41 

stars  move  in  a  path  opposite  to  that  of  the  eartb,  so  he 
proceeds  contrary  to  the  prejudices  of  all. 

XY.  Cease  then  to  saj,  "  Will  not  the  wise  man,  then, 
receive  an  injury  if  he  be  beaten,  if  his  eye  be  knocked  out  ? 
will  he  not  receive  an  insult  if  he  be  hooted  through  the 
Forum  by  the  foul  voices  of  ruffians  ?  if  at  a  court  banquet  he 
be  bidden  to  leave  the  table  and  eat  with  slaves  appointed 
to  degrading  duties  ?  if  he  be  forced  to  endure  anything 
else  that  can  be  thought  of  that  would  gall  a  high  spirit  ?" 
However  many  or  however  severe  these  crosses  may  be, 
they  will  all  be  of  the  same  kind ;  and  if  small  ones  do  not 
affect  him,  neither  will  greater  ones ;  if  a  few  do  not  affect 
him,  neither  will  more.  It  is  from  your  own  weakness  that 
you  form  your  idea  of  his  colossal  mind,  and  when  you  have 
thought  how  much  you  yourselves  could  endure  to  suffer, 
you  place  the  limit  of  the  wise  man's  endurance  a  little  way 
beyond  that.  But  his  virtue  has  placed  him  in  another 
region  of  the  universe  which  has  nothing  in  common  with 
you.  Seek  out  sufferings  and  all  things  hard  to  be  borne, 
repulsive  to  be  heard  or  seen ;  he  will  not  be  overwhelmed 
by  their  combination,  and  will  bear  all  just  as  he  bears  each 
one  of  them.  He  who  says  that  the  wise  man  can  bear  this 
and  cannot  bear  that,  and  restrains  his  magnanimity 
within  certain  limits,  does  wrong ;  for  Fortune  overcomes 
us  unless  she  is  entirely  overcome.  Think  not  that  this  is 
mere  Stoic  austerity.  Epicurus,  whom  you  adopt  as  the 
patron  of  your  laziness,  and  who,  you  imagine,  always 
taught  what  was  soft  and  slothful  and  conducive  to  plea- 
sure, said,  "Fortune  seldom  stands  in  a  wise  man's  way." 
How  near  he  came  to  a  manly  sentiment !  Do  thou  dare 
to  speak  more  boldly,  and  clear  her  out  of  the  way  altoge- 
ther !  This  is  the  house  of  the  wise  man — narrow,  un- 
adorned, without  bustle  and  splendour,  the  threshold 
guarded  by  no  porters  who  marshal  the  crowd  of  visitors 
with  a  haughtiness  proportionate  to  their  bribes — but  For- 


42  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  II. 

tune  cannot  cross  this  open  and  unguarded  threshold.  She 
knows  that  there  is  no  room  for  her  where  there  is  nothing 
of  hers. 

XVI.  Now  if  even  Epicurus,  who  made  more  conces- 
sions to  the  body  than  any  one,  takes  a  spirited  tone  with 
regard  to  injuries,  what  can  appear  beyond  belief  or 
beyond  the  scope  of  human  nature  amongst  us  Stoics  ?  He 
says  that  injuries  may  be  endured  by  the  wise  man,  we  say 
that  they  do  not  exist  for  him.  Nor  is  there  any  reason 
why  you  should  declare  this  to  be  repugnant  to  nature. 
We  do  not  deny  that  it  is  an  unpleasant  thing  to  be  beaten 
or  struck,  or  to  lose  one  of  our  limbs,  but  we  say  that  none 
of  these  things  are  injuries.  We  do  not  take  away  from 
them  the  feeling  of  pain,  but  the  name  of  "  injury,"  which 
cannot  be  received  while  our  virtue  is  unimpaired.  We 
shall  see  which  of  the  two  is  nearest  the  truth ;  each  of 
them  agree  in  despising  injury.  You  ask  what  difference 
there  is  between  them  ?  All  that  there  is  between  two 
very  brave  gladiators,  one- of  whom  conceals  his  wound  and 
holds  his  ground,  while  the  other  turns  round  to  the  shout- 
ing populace,  gives  them  to  understand  that  his  wound  is 
nothing,  and  does  not  permit  them  to  interfere  on  his  behalf. 
You  need  not  think  that  it  is  any  great  thing  about  which 
we  differ ;  the  whole  gist  of  the  matter,  that  which  alone 
concerns  you,  is  what  both  schools  of  philosophy  urge  you 
to  do,  namely,  to  despise  injuries  and  insults,  which  I  may 
call  the  shadows  and  outlines  of  injuries,  to  despise  which 
does  not  need  a  wise  man,  but  merely  a  sensible  one,  who 
can  say  to  himself,  "  Do  these  things  befall  me  deservedly 
or  undeservedly  ?  If  deservedly,  it  is  not  an  insult,  but  a 
judicial  sentence ;  if  undeservedly,  then  he  who  does  injus- 
tice ought  to  blush,  not  I.  And  what  is  this  which  is  called 
an  insult  ?  Some  one  has  made  a  joke  about  the  baldness 
of  my  head,  the  weakness  of  my  eyes,  the  thinness  of  my 
legs,  the  shortness  of  my  stature ;  what  insult  is  there  in 


CH.  XYII.]         ON    THE    FIRMNESS   OF    THE    WISE  MAN.  43 

telling  me  that  which  every  one  sees  ?  We  laugh  when 
tete-a-tete  at  the  same  thing  at  which  we  are  indignant 
when  it  is  said  before  a  crowd,  and  we  do  not  allow  others 
the  privilege  of  saying  what  we  ourselves  are  wont  to  say 
about  ourselves;  we  are  amused  at  decorous  jests,  but  are 
angry  if  they  are  carried  too  far." 

XVII.  Chrysippus  says  that  a  man  was  enraged  because 
some  one  called  him  a  sea-sheep ;  we  have  seen  Fidus  Cor- 
nelius, the  son-in-law  of  Ovidius  Naso,  weeping  in  the 
Senate-house  because  Corbulo  called  him  a  plucked  ostrich ; 
his  command  of  his  countenance  did  not  fail  him  at  other 
abusive  charges,  which  damaged  his  character  and  way  of 
life ;  at  this  ridiculous  saying  he  burst  into  tears.  So 
deplorable  is  the  weakness  of  men's  minds  when  reason  no 
longer  guides  them.  What  of  our  taking  offence  if  any  one 
imitates  our  talk,  our  walk,  or  apes  any  defect  of  our  person 
or  our  pronunciation  ?  as  if  they  would  become  more  noto- 
rious by  another's  imitation  than  by  our  doing  them  our- 
selves. Some  are  unwilling  to  hear  about  their  age  and 
grey  hairs,  and  all  the  rest  of  what  men  pray  to  arrive  at. 
The  reproach  of  poverty  agonizes  some  men,  and  whoever 
conceals  it  makes  it  a  reproach  to  himself ;  and  therefore  if 
you  of  your  own  accord  are  the  first  to  acknowledge  it,  you 
cut  the  ground  from  under  the  feet  of  those  who  would  sneer 
and  politely  insult  you  ;  no  one  is  laughed  at  who  begins 
by  laughing  at  himself.  Tradition  tells  us  that  Yatinius, 
a  man  born  both  to  be  lausfhed  at  and  hated,  was  a 
witty  and  clever  jester.  He  made  many  jokes  about  his 
feet  and  his  short  neck,  and  thus  escaped  the  sarcasms  of 
Cicero  above  all,  and  of  his  other  enemies,  of  whom  he  had 
more  than  he  had  diseases.  If  he,  who  through  constant 
abuse  had  forgotten  how  to  blush,  could  do  this  by  sheer 
brazenness,  why  should  not  he  who  has  made  some  progress 
in  the  education  of  a  gentleman  and  the  study  of  philo- 
sophy ?     Besides,  it  is  a  sort  of  revenge  to  spoil  a  man's 


44  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  II. 

enjoyment  of  the  insult  he  has  offered  to  us  ;  such  men  say, 
*'  Dear  me,  I  suppose  he  did  not  understand  it."  Thus  the 
success  of  an  insult  lies  in  the  sensitiveness  and  rage  of  the 
victim ;  hereafter  the  insulter  will  sometimes  meet  his 
match  ;  some  one  will  be  found  to  revenge  you  also. 

XYIII.  Gains  Caesar,  among  the  other  vices  with  which 
he  overflowed,  was  possessed  by  a  strange  insolent  passion 
for  marking  every  one  with  some  note  of  ridicule,  he  himself 
being  the  most  tempting  subject  for  derision ;  so  ugly  was 
the  paleness  which  proved  him  mad,  so  savage  the  glare  of 
the  eyes  which  lurked  under  his  old  woman's  brow,  so 
hideous  his  misshapen  head,  bald  and  dotted  about  with  a 
few  cherished  hairs;  besides  the  neck  set  thick  with  bristles, 
his  thin  legs^  his  monstrous  feet.  It  would  be  endless  were 
1  to  mention  all  the  insults  which  he  heaped  upon  his 
parents  and  ancestors,  and  people  of  every  class  of  life.  I 
will  mention  those  which  brought  him  to  ruin.  An  especial 
friend  of  his  was  Asiaticus  Valerius,  a  proud-spirited  man 
and  one  hardly  likely  to  put  up  with  another's  insults 
quietly.  At  a  drinking  bout,  that  is,  a  public  assembly, 
Gaius,  at  the  top  of  his  voice,  reproached  this  man  with  the 
way  his  wife  behaved  in  bed.  Good  gods !  that  a  man 
should  hear  that  the  emperor  knew  this,  and  that  he,  the 
emperor,  should  describe  his  adultery  and  his  disappoint- 
ment to  the  lady's  husband,  I  do  not  say  to  a  man  of 
consular  rank  and  his  own  friend.  Chaerea,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  military  tribune,  had  a  voice  not  befitting  his 
prowess,  feeble  in  sound,  and  somewhat  suspicious  unless 
you  knew  his  achievements.  When  he  asked  for  the 
watchword  Gaius  at  one  time  gave  him  "  Venus,"  and  at 
another  "  Priapus,"  and  by  various  means  reproached  the 
man-at-arms  with  effeminate  vice;  while  he  himself  was 
dressed  in  transparent  clothes,  wearing  sandals  and  jewel- 
lery. Thus  he  forced  him  to  use  his  sword,  that  he  might  not 
have  to  ask  for  the  watchword  oftener :  it  was  Chaerea  who 


CH.  XIX.]  ON  THE    FIRMNESS    OF    THE   WISE    MAN.  45 

first  of  all  the  conspirators  raised  his  hand,  who  cut  through 
the  middle  of  Caligula's  neck  with  one  blow.  After  that, 
many  swords,  belonging  to  men  who  had  public  or  private 
injuries  to  avenge,  were  thrust  into  his  body,  but  he  first 
showed  himself  a  man  who  seemed  least  like  one.  The 
same  Gains  construed  everything  as  an  insult  (since  those 
who  are  most  eager  to  offer  affronts  are  least  able  to  endure 
them).  He  was  angry  with  Herennius  Macer  for  having 
greeted  him  as  Gains — nor  did  the  chief  centurion  of  triarii 
get  off  scot-free  for  having  saluted  him  as  Caligula  ;  having 
been  born  in  the  camp  and  brought  up  as  the  child  of  the 
legions,  he  had  been  wont  to  be  called  by  this  name,  nor 
was  there  any  by  which  he  was  better  known  to  the  troops, 
but  by  this  time  he  held  "  Caligula  "  to  be  a  reproach  and 
a  dishonour.  Let  wounded  spirits,  then,  console  them- 
selves with  this  reflexion,  that,  even  though  our  easy 
temper  may  have  neglected  to  revenge  itself,  nevertheless 
that  there  will  be  some  one  who  will  punish  the  imperti- 
nent, proud,  and  insulting  man,  for  these  are  vices  which  he 
never  confines  to  one  victim  or  one  single  offensive  act. 
Let  us  look  at  the  examples  of  those  men  whose  endurance 
we  admire,  as,  for  instance,  that  of  Socrates,  who  took  in 
good  part  the  published  and  acted  jibes  of  the  comedians 
upon  himself,  and  laughed  no  less  than  he  did  when  he  was 
drenched  with  dirty  water  by  his  wife  Xanthippe.  Antis- 
thenes  was  reproached  with  his  mother  being  a  barbarian 
and  a  Thracian ;  he  answered  that  the  mother  of  the  gods> 
too,  came  from  Mount  Ida. 

XIX.  We  ought  not  to  engage  in  quarrels  and  wrangling  j 
we  ought  to  betake  ourselves  far  away  and  to  disregard 
everything  of  this  kind  which  thoughtless  people  do  (indeed 
thoughtless  people  alone  do  it),  and  to  set  equal  value  upon 
the  honours  and  the  reproaches  of  the  mob  ;  we  ought  not 
to  be  hurt  by  the  one  or  to  be  pleased  by  the  other.  Other- 
wise we  shall  neglect  many  essential  points,  shall  desert  our 


46  MlNOTi   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  II. 

duty  both  to  the  state  and  in  private  life  through  excessive 
fear  of  insults  or  weariness  of  them,  and  sometimes  we 
shall  even  miss  what  would  do  us  good,  while  tortured  by 
this  womanish  pain  at  hearing  something  not  to  our  mind. 
Sometimes,  too,  when  enraged  with  powerful  men  we  shall 
expose  this  failing  by  our  reckless  freedom  of  speech ;  yet 
it  is  not  freedom  to  suffer  nothing — we  are  mistaken — 
freedom  consists  in  raising  one's  mind  superior  to  injuries 
and  becoming  a  person  whose  pleasures  come  from  himself 
alone,  in  separating  oneself  from  external  circumstances 
that  one  may  not  have  to  lead  a  disturbed  life  in  fear  of  the 
laughter  and  tongues  of  all  men ;  for  if  any  man  can  offer  an  in- 
sult, who  is  there  who  cannot  ?  The  wise  man  and  the  would- 
be  wise  man  will  apply  different  remedies  to  this ;  for  it  is  only 
those  whose  philosophical  education  is  incomplete,  and  who 
still  guide  themselves  by  public  opinion,  who  would  suppose 
that  they  ought  to  spend  their  lives  in  the  midst  of  insults 
and  injuries  ;  yet  all  things  happen  in  a  more  endurable 
fashion  to  men  who  are  prepared  for  them.  The  nobler  a 
man  is  by  birth,  by  reputation,  or  by  inheritance,  the  more 
bravely  he  should  bear  himself,  remembering  that  the 
tallest  men  stand  in  the  front  rank  in  battle.  As  for 
insults,  offensive  language,  marks  of  disgrace,  and  such-like 
disfigurements,  he  ought  to  bear  them  as  he  would  bear 
the  shouts  of  the  enemy,  and  darts  or  stones  flung  from  a 
distance,  which  rattle  upon  his  helmet  without  causing  a 
wound ;  while  he  should  look  upon  injuries  as  wounds, 
some  received  on  his  armour  and  others  on  his  body,  which 
he  endures  without  falling  or  even  leaving  his  place  in  the 
ranks.  Even  though  you  be  hard  pressed  and  violently 
attacked  by  the  enemy,  still  it  is  base  to  give  way ;  hold 
the  post  assigned  to  you  by  nature.  You  ask,  what  this 
post  is  ?  it  is  that  of  being  a  man.  The  wise  man  has 
another  help,  of  the  opposite  kind  to  this  ;  you  are  hard  at 
work,  while  he  has  already  won    the    victory.      Do    not 


CH.  XIX.]  ON    THE   FIRMNESS    OF    THE    WISE    MAN.  47 

qnarrel  with  your  own  good  advantage,  and,  until  yon 
shall  have  made  your  way  to  the  truth,  keep  alive  this  hope 
in  your  minds,  be  willing  to  receive  the  news  of  a  better 
life,  and  encourage  it  by  your  admiration  and  your  prayers; 
it  is  to  the  interest  of  the  commonwealth  of  mankind  that 
there  should  be  some  one  who  is  unconquered,  some  one 
against  whom  fortune  has  no  power. 


48 


THE    THIRD    BOOK    OF    THE    DIALOGUES 

OF     L.    ANNAEUS     SENECA, 

ADDRESSED  TO  NOVATUS. 


OF   ANGER. 


Book  I. 


YOU  have  demanded  of  me,  Novatus,  that  I  should  write 
how  anger  may  be  soothed,  and  it  appears  to  me  that 
you  are  right  in  feeling  especial  fear  of  this  passion,  which 
is  above  all  others  hideous  and  wild :  for  the  others  have 
some  alloy  of  peace  and  quiet,  but  this  consists  wholly  in 
action  and  the  impulse  of  grief,  raging  with  an  utterly 
inhuman  lust  for  arms,  blood  and  tortures,  careless  of 
itself  provided  it  hurts  another,  rushing  upon  the  very 
point  of  the  sword,  and  greedy  for  revenge  even  when  it 
drags  the  avenger  to  ruin  with  itself.  Some  of  the  wisest 
of  men  have  in  consequence  of  this  called  anger  a  short 
madness  :  for  it  is  equally  devoid  of  self  control,  regardless, 
of  decorum,  forgetful  of  kinship,  obstinately  engrossed  in 
whatever  it  begins  to  do,  deaf  to  reason  and  advice,  excited 
by  trifling  causes,  awkward  at  perceiving  what  is  true  and 
just,  and  very  like  a  falling  rock  which  breaks  itself  to- 
pieces  upon  the  very  thing  which  it  crushes.  That  you  may 
know  that  they  whom  anger  possesses  are  not  sane,  look  at 
their  appearance ;  for  as  there  are  distinct  symptoms  which 
mark  madmen,  such  as  a  bold  and  menacing  air,  a  gloomj 


CH.  II.]  OF  ANGER.  49 

brow,  a  stern  face,  a  hurried  walk,  restless  hands,  changed 
colour,  quick  and  strongly-drawn  breathing  ;  the  signs  of 
angry  men,  too,  are  the  same  :  their  eyes  blaze  and  sparkle, 
their  whole  face  is  a  deep  red  with  the  blood  which  boils 
up  from  the  bottom  of  their  heart,  their  lips  quiver,  their 
teeth  are  set,  their  hair  bristles  and  stands  on  end,  their 
breath  is  laboured  and  hissing,  their  joints  crack  as  they 
twist  them  about,  they  groan,  bellow,  and  burst  into  scarcely 
intelligible  talk,  they  often  clap  their  hands  together  and 
stamp  on  the  ground  with  their  feet,  and  their  whole  body 
is  highly-strung  and  plays  those  tricks  which  mark  a  dis- 
traught mind,  so  as  to  furnish  an  ugly  and  shocking  picture 
of  self- perversion  and  excitement.  You  cannot  tell  whether 
this  vice  is  more  execrable  or  more  disgusting.  Other  vices 
can  be  concealed  and  cherished  in  secret;  anger  shows 
itself  openly  and  appears  in  the  countenance,  and  the  greater 
it  is,  the  more  plainly  it  boils  forth.  Do  you  not  see  how 
in  all  animals  certain  signs  appear  before  they  proceed  to 
mischief,  and  how  their  entire  bodies  put  off  their  usual 
quiet  appearance  and  stir  up  their  ferocity  ?  Boars  foam 
at  the  mouth  and  sharpen  their  teeth  by  rubbing  them 
against  trees,  bulls  toss  their  horns  in  the  air  and  scatter 
the  sand  with  blows  of  their  feet,  lions  growl,  the  necks  of 
enraged  snakes  swell,  mad  dogs  have  a  sullen  look — there 
is  no  animal  so  hateful  and  venomous  by  nature  that  it 
does  not,  when  seized  by  anger,  show  additional  fierceness. 
I  know  well  that  the  other  passions,  can  hardly  be  concealed, 
and  that  lust,  fear,  and  boldness  give  signs  of  their  presence 
and  may  be  discovered  beforehand,  for  there  is  no  one  of 
the  stronger  passions  that  does  not  affect  the  countenance  : 
what  then  is  the  difference  between  them  and  anger  ? 
Why,  that  the  other  passions  are  visible,  but  that  this  is 
conspicuous. 

II.  Next,  if  you  choose  to  view  its  results  and  the  mis- 
chief  that   it  does,  no  plague  has  cost  the  human  race 

£ 


50  MINOR   DIA.LOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

more  dear  :  you  will  see  slaughterings  and  poisonings, 
accusations  and  co'unter-accusations,  sacking  of  cities,  ruin 
of  whole  peoples,  the  persons  of  princes  sold  into  slavery 
by  auction,  torches  applied  to  roofs,  and  fires  not  merely 
confined  within  city-walls  but  making  whole  tracts  of 
country  glow  with  hostile  flame.  See  the  foundations  of 
the  most  celebrated  cities  hardly  now  to  be  discerned; 
they  were  ruined  by  anger.  See  deserts  extending  for  many 
miles  without  an  inhabitant  :  they  have  been  desolated 
by  anger.  See  all  the  chiefs  whom  tradition  mentions  as 
instances  of  ill  fate ;  anger  stabbed  one  of  them  in  his 
bed,  struck  down  another,  though  he  was  protected  by  the 
sacred  rights  of  hospitality,  tore  another  to  pieces  in  the 
very  home  of  the  laws  and  in  sight  of  the  crowded  forum, 
bade  one  shed  his  own  blood  by  the  parricide  hand  of  his 
son,  another  to  have  his  royal  throat  cut  by  the  hand  of  a 
slave,  another  to  stretch  out  his  limbs  on  the  cross  :  and 
hitherto  I  am  speaking  merely  of  individual  cases.  What, 
if  you  were  to  pass  from  the  consideration  of  those  single 
men  against  whom  anger  has  broken  out  to  view  whole 
assemblies  cut  down  by  the  sword,  the  people  butchered 
by  the  soldiery  let  loose  upon  it,  and  whole  nations  con- 
demned to  death  in  one  common  ruin  ...   .^  as  though  by 

^  Here  a  leaf  or  more  has  been  lost,  inchiding  the  fragment  cited  in 
Lactantius,  De  ira  dei,  17  "  Ira  est  cupiditas,"  &c.  The  entire  passage 
is  : — *'But  the  Stoics  did  not  perceive  that  there  is  a  difference  between 
right  and  wrong;  that  there  is  just  and  unjust  anger:  and  as  they 
could  find  no  remedy  for  it,  they  wished  to  extirpate  it.  The  Peripatetics, 
on  the  other  hand,  declared  that  it  ought  not  to  be  destroyed,  but  re- 
strained. These  I  have  sufficiently  answered  in  the  sixth  book  of  my 
'  Institutiones.'  It  is  clear  that  the  philosophers  did  not  comprehend 
the  reason  of  anger,  from  the  definitions  of  it  which  Seneca  has  enu- 
merated in  the  books  'On  Anger'  which  he  has  written.  '  Anger,'  he 
says,  '  is  the  desire  of  avenging  an  injury.'  Others,  as  Posidonius 
says,  call  it  '  a  desire  to  punish  one  by  whom  you  think  that  you  have 
been  unjustly  injured.'  Some  have  defined  it  thus,  '  Anger  is  an  impulse 


CH.  III.]  OF   ANGEE.  51 

men  wlio  either  freed  themselves  from  our  charge  or 
despised  onr  authority?  Why,  wherefore  is  the  people 
angry  with  gladiators,  and  so  unjust  as  to  think  itself 
wronged  if  they  do  not  die  cheerfully  ?  It  thinks  itself 
scorned,  and  by  looks,  gestures,  and  excitement  turns  itself 
from  a  mere  spectator  into  an  adversary.  Everything  of 
this  sort  is  not  anger,  but  the  semblance  of  anger,  like 
that  of  boys  who  want  to  beat  the  ground  when  they  have 
fallen  upon  it,  and  who  often  do  not  even  know  why  they 
are  angry,  but  are  merely  angry  without  any  reason  or 
having  received  any  injury,  yet  not  without  some  semblance 
of  injury  received,  or  without  some  wish  to  exact  a  penalty 
for  it.  Thus  they  are  deceived  by  the  likeness  of  blows,  and 
are  appeased  by  the  pretended  tears  of  those  who  deprecate 
their  wrath,  and  thus  an  unreal  grief  is  healed  by  an  unreal 
revenge. 

III.  "  We  often  are  angry,"  says  our  adversary,  "  not 
with  men  who  have  hurt  us,  but  with  men  who  are  going 
to  hurt  us  :  so  you  may  be  sure  that  anger  is  not  born  of 
injury."  It  is  true  that  we  are  angry  with  those  who  are 
going  to  hurt  us,  but  they  do  already  hurt  us  in  intention, 
and  one  who  is  going  to  do  an  injury  is  already  doing  it. 
"  The  weakest  of  men,"  argues  he,  "  are  often  angry  with 
the  most  powerful :  so  you  may  be  sure  that  anger  is  not 
a  desire  to  punish  their  antagonist — for  men  do  not  desire 
to  punish  him  when  they  cannot  hope  to  do  so."  In  the 
first  place,  I  spoke  of  a  desire  to  inflict  punishment,  not  a 
power  to  do  so :  now  men  desire  even  what  they  cannot 
obtain.  In  the  next  place,  no  one  is  so  low  in  station  as 
not  to  be  able  to  hope  to  inflict  punishment  even  upon 
the  greatest  of  men :  we  all  are   powerful  for  mischief. 

of  tlie  mind  to  injure  him  who  either  has  injured  you  or  has  sought  to 
injure  you.'  Aristotle's  definition  differs  but  little  from  our  own.  He 
says,  '  that  anger  is  a  desire  to  repay  suffering,*"  etc. 


62  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

Aristotle's  definition  differs  little  from  mine :  for  lie  declares 
anger  to  be  a  desire  to  repay  suffering.  It  would  be  a  long 
task  to  examine  the  differences  between  his  definition  and 
mine  :  it  may  be  urged  against  both  of  them  that  wild 
beasts  become  angry  without  being  excited  by  injury,  and 
without  any  idea  of  punishing  others  or  requiting  them 
with  pain  :  for,  even  though  they  do  these  things,  these 
are  not  what  they  aim  at  doing.  We  must  admit,  how- 
ever, that  neither  wild  beasts  nor  any  other  creature  except 
man  is  subject  to  anger  :  for,  whilst  anger  is  the  foe  of 
reason,  it  nevertheless  does  not  arise  in  any  place  where 
reason  cannot  dwell.  Wild  beasts  have  impulses,  fury, 
cruelty,  combativeness  :  they  have  not  anger  any  more  than 
they  have  luxury  :  yet  they  indulge  in  some  pleasures  with 
less  self-control  than  human  beings.  Do  not  believe  the 
poet  who  says : 

*'  The  boar  his  wrath  forgets,  the  stag  forgets  the  hounds, 
The  bear  forgets  how  'midst  the  herd  he  leaped  with  frantic  bounds."  ^ 

When  he  speaks  of  beasts  being  angry  he  means  that  they 
are  excited,  roused  up :  for  indeed  they  know  no  more  how 
to  be  angry  than  they  know  how  to  pardon.  Dumb 
creatures  have  not  human  feelings,  but  have  certain  im- 
pulses which  resemble  them  :  for  if  it  were  not  so,  if  they 
could  feel  love  and  hate,  they  would  likewise  be  capable  of 
friendship  and  enmity,  of  disagreement  and  agreement. 
Some  traces  of  these  qualities  exist  even  in  them,  though 
properly  all  of  them,  whether  good  or  bad,  belong  to  the 
human  breast  alone.  To  no  creature  besides  man  has 
been  given  wisdom,  foresight,  industry,  and  reflexion.  To 
animals  not  only  human  virtues  but  even  human  vices  are 
forbidden:  their  whole  constitution,  mental  and  bodily, 
is  unlike  that  of  human  beings :  in  them  the  royal  ^  and 

*  Ovid,  '•  Met."  v.i.  545-6.  ^  to  riyifioviKov  of  the  Stoics. 


CH.  v.]  OF   ANGER.  63 

leading  principle  is  drawn  from  another  source,  as,  for  in- 
stance, they  possess  a  voice,  yet  not  a  clear  one,  but  indis- 
tinct and  incapable  of  forming  words  :  a  tongue,  but  one 
which  is  fettered  and  not  sufficiently  nimble  for  complex 
movements  :  so,  too,  they  possess  intellect,  the  greatest 
attribute  of  all,  but  in  a  rough  and  inexact  condition.  It 
is,  consequently,  able  to  grasp  those  visions  and  semblances 
which  rouse  it  to  action,  but  only  in  a  cloudy  and  indis- 
tinct fashion.  It  follows  from  this  that  their  impulses  and 
outbreaks  are  violent,  and  that  they  do  not  feel  fear,  anxieties, 
grief,  or  anger,  but  some  semblances  of  these  feelings  : 
wherefore  they  quickly  drop  them  and  adopt  the  converse 
of  them  :  they  graze  after  showing  the  most  vehement  rage 
and  terror,  and  after  frantic  bellowing  and  plunging  they 
straightway  sink  into  quiet  sleep. 

IV.  What  anger  is  has  been  sufficiently  explained.  The 
difference  between  it  and  irascibility  is  evident :  it  is  the 
same  as  that  between  a  drunken  man  and  a  drunkard  ; 
between  a  frightened  man  and  a  coward.  It  is  possible 
for  an  angry  man  not  to  be  irascible  ;  an  irascible  man  may 
sometimes  not  be  angry.  I  shall  omit  the  other  varieties 
of  anger,  which  the  Greeks  distinguish  by  various  names, 
because  we  have  no  distinctive  words  for  them  in  our  lan- 
guage, although  we  call  men  bitter,  and  harsh,  and  also 
peevish,  frantic,  clamorous,  surly,  and  fierce  :  all  of  which 
are  different  forms  of  irascibility.  Among  these  you  may 
class  sulkiness,  a  refined  form  of  irascibility ;  for  there  are 
some  sorts  of  anger  which  go  no  further  than  noise,  while 
some  are  as  lasting  as  they  are  common :  some  are  fierce 
in  deed,  but  inclined  to  be  sparing  of  words  :  some  expend 
themselves  in  bitter  words  and  curses  :  some  do  not  go 
beyond  complaining  and  turning  one's  back :  some  are 
great,  deep-seated,  and  brood  within  a  man  :  there  are  a 
thousand  other  forms  of  a  multiform  evil. 

V.  We  have  now  finished  our  enquiry  as  to  what  anger 


64  MINOE   DIALOGUES,  [bK.  III. 

is,  whether  it  exists  in  any  other  creature  besides  man,  what 
the  difference  is  between  it  and  irascibility,  and  how  many 
forms  it  possesses.  Let  us  now  enquire  whether  anger  be 
in  accordance  with  nature,  and  whether  it  be  useful  and 
worth  entertaining  in  some  measure. 

Whether  it  be  according  to  nature  will  become  evident 
if  we  consider  man's  nature,  than  which  what  is  more 
gentle  while  it  is  in  its  proper  condition  ?  Yet  what 
is  more  cruel  than  anger  ?  What  is  more  affectionate 
to  others  than  man  ?  Yet  what  is  more  savage  against 
them  than  anger  ?  Mankind  is  born  for  mutual  assis- 
tance, anger  for  mutual  ruin :  the  former  loves  society,  the 
latter  estrangement.  The  one  loves  to  do  good,  the  other 
to  do  harm  ;  the  one  to  help  even  strangers,  the  other  to 
attack  even  its  dearest  friends.  The  one  is  ready  even  to 
sacrifice  itself  for  the  good  of  others,  the  other  to  plunge 
into  peril  provided  it  drags  others  with  it.  Who,  then, 
can  be  more  ignorant  of  nature  than  he  who  classes  this 
cruel  and  hurtful  vice  as  belonging  to  her  best  and  most 
polished  work  ?  Anger,  as  we  have  said,  is  eager  to  punish  ^ 
and  that  such  a  desire  should  exist  in  man's  peaceful  breast 
is  least  of  all  according  to  his  nature ;  for  human  life  is 
founded  on  benefits  and  harmony,  and  is  bound  together  into 
an  alliance  for  the  common  help  of  all,  not  by  terror,  but 
by  love  towards  one  another. 

VI.  "  What,  then  ?  Is  not  correction  sometimes  neces- 
sary ?  "  Of  course  it  is ;  but  with  discretion,  not  with  anger ;, 
for  it  does  not  injure,  but  heals  under  the  guise  of  injury. 
We  char  crooked  spearshafts  to  straighten  them,  and  force 
them  by  driving  in  wedges,  not  in  order  to  break  them, 
but  to  take  the  bends  out  of  them  ;  and,  in  like  manner,  by 
applying  pain  to  the  body  or  mind  we  correct  dispositions. 
which  have  been  rendered  crooked  by  vice.  So  the  phy- 
sician at  first,  when  dealing  with  slight  disorders,  tries  not  ta 
make  much  change  in  his  patient's  daily  habits,  to  regulate 


CH.  VI.]  OP  ANGER.  55 

his  food,  drink,  and  exercise,  and  to  improve  his  health 
merely  by  altering  the  order  in  which  he  takes  them.  The 
next  step  is  to  see  whether  an  alteration  in  their  amount 
will  be  of  service.  If  neither  alteration  of  the  order  or  of 
the  amount  is  of  use,  he  cuts  off  some  and  reduces  others. 
If  even  this  does  not  answer,  he  forbids  food,  and  dis- 
burdens the  body  by  fasting.  If  milder  remedies  have 
proved  useless  he  opens  a  vein ;  if  the  extremities  are 
injuring  the  body  and  infecting  it  with  disease  he  lays  his 
hands  upon  the  limbs ;  yet  none  of  his  treatment  is  con- 
sidered harsh  if  its  result  is  to  give  health.  Similarly,  it 
is  the  duty  of  the  chief  administrator  of  the  laws,  or  the 
ruler  of  a  state,  to  correct  ill-disposed  men,  as  long  as  he 
is  able,  with  words,  and  even  with  gentle  ones,  that  he  may 
persuade  them  to  do  what  they  ought,  inspire  them  with  a 
love  of  honour  and  justice,  and  cause  them  to  hate  vice 
and  set  store  upon  virtue.  He  must  then  pass  on  to  severer 
language,  still  confining  himself  to  advising  and  reprimand- 
ing ;  last  of  all  he  must  betake  himself  to  punishments, 
yet  still  making  them  slight  and  temporary.  He  ought  to 
assign  extreme  punishments  only  to  extreme  crimes,  that 
no  one  may  die  unless  it  be  even  to  the  criminal's  own 
advantage  that  he  should  die.  He  will  differ  from  the 
physician  in  one  point  alone ;  for  whereas  physicians  render 
it  easy  to  die  for  those  to  whom  they  cannot  grant  the  boon 
of  life,  he  will  drive  the  condemned  out  of  life  with  ig- 
nominy and  disgrace,  not  because  he  takes  pleasure  in  any 
man's  being  punished,  for  the  wise  man  is  far  from  such 
inhuman  ferocity,  but  that  they  may  be  a  warning  to  all 
men,  and  that,  since  they  would  not  be  useful  when  alive, 
the  state  may  at  any  rate  profit  by  their  death.  Man's 
nature  is  not,  therefore,  desirous  of  inflicting  punishment ; 
neither,  therefore,  is  anger  in  accordance  with  man's  nature, 
because  that  is  desirous  of  inflicting  punishment.  I  will  also 
adduce  Plato's  argument — for  what  harm  is  there  in  using 


66  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

other  men's  arguments,  so  far  as  they  are  on  our  side  ? 
"  A  good  man,"  says  he,  "  does  not  do  any  hurt :  it  is  only 
punishment  which  hurts.  Punishment,  therefore,  does  not 
accord  with  a  good  man :  wherefore  anger  does  not  do  so 
either,  because  punishment  and  anger  accord  one  with 
another.  If  a  good  man  takes  no  pleasure  in  punishment, 
he  will  also  take  no  pleasure  in  that  state  of  mind  to  which 
punishment  gives  pleasure :  consequently  anger  is  not 
natural  to  man." 

VII.  May  it  not  be  that,  although  anger  be  not  natural, 
it  may  be  right  to  adopt  it,  because  it  often  proves  useful  ? 
It  rouses  the  spirit  and  excites  it ;  and  courage  does  nothing 
grand  in  war  without  it,  unless  its  flame  be  supplied  from 
this  source ;  this  is  the  goad  which  stirs  up  bold  men  and 
sends  them  to  encounter  perils.  Some  therefore  consider  it 
to  be  best  to  control  anger,  not  to  banish  it  utterly,  but  to 
cut  off  its  extravagances,  and  force  it  to  keep  within  useful 
bounds,  so  as  to  retain  that  part  of  it  without  which  action 
will  become  languid  and  all  strength  and  activity  of  mind 
will  die  away. 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  easier  to  banish  dangerous  passions 
than  to  rule  them  ;  it  is  easier  not  to  admit  them  than  to 
keep  them  in  order  when  admitted  ;  for  when  they  have 
established  themselves  in  possession  of  the  mind  they  are 
more  powerful  than  the  lawful  ruler,  and  will  in  no  wise 
permit  themselves  to  be  weakened  or  abridged.  In  the  next 
place,  Reason  herself,  who  holds  the  reins,  is  only  strong 
while  she  remains  apart  from  the  passions ;  if  she  mixes 
and  befouls  herself  with  them  she  becomes  no  longer  able 
to  restrain  those  whom  she  might  once  have  cleared  out  of 
her  path ;  for  the  mind,  when  once  excited  and  shaken  up, 
goes  whither  the  passions  drive  it.  There  are  certain  things 
whose  beginnings  lie  in  our  own  power,  but  which,  when 
developed,  drag  us  along  by  their  own  force  and  leave  us 
no  reireat.     Those  who  have  flung  themselves  over  a  preci- 


CH.  VIII.]  OP   ANGER.  57 

pice  have  no  control  over  their  movements,  nor  can  they 
stop  or  slacken  their  pace  when  once  started,  for  their  own 
headlong  and  irremediable  rashness  has  left  no  room  for 
either  reflexion  or  remorse,  and  they  cannot  help  going 
to  lengths  which  they  might  have  avoided.  So,  also,  the 
mind,  when  it  has  abandoned  itself  to  anger,  love,  or  any 
other  passion,  is  unable  to  check  itself  :  its  own  weight  and 
the  downward  tendency  of  vices  must  needs  carry  the  man 
off  and  hurl  him  into  the  lowest  depth. 

YIII.  The  best  plan  is  to  reject  straightway  the  first  in- 
centives to  anger,  to  resist  its  very  beginnings,  and  to  take 
care  not  to  be  betrayed  into  it :  for  if  once  it  begins  to 
carry  us  away,  it  is  hard  to  get  back  again  into  a  healthy 
condition,  because  reason  goes  for  nothing  when  once  pas- 
sion has  been  admitted  to  the  mind,  and  has  by  our  own 
free  will  been  given  a  certain  authority,  it  will  for  the  future 
do  as  much  as  it  chooses,  not  only  as  much  as  you  will  allow  it. 
The  enemy,  I  repeat,  must  be  met  and  driven  back  at  the 
outermost  frontier-line  :  for  when  he  has  once  entered  the 
city  and  passed  its  gates,  he  will  not  allow  his  prisoners  to  set 
bounds  to  his  victory.  The  mind  does  not  stand  apart  and 
view  its  passions  from  without,  so  as  not  to  permit  them  to 
advance  further  than  they  ought,  but  it  is  itself  changed 
into  a  passion,  and  is  therefore  unable  to  check  what  once 
was  useful  and  wholesome  strength,  now  that  it  has  become 
degenerate  and  misapplied :  for  passion  and  reason,  as  I 
said  before,  have  not  distinct  and  separate  provinces,  but 
consist  of  the  changes  of  the  mind  itself  for  better  or  for 
worse.  How  then  can  reason  recover  itself  when  it  is 
conquered  and  held  down  by  vices,  when  it  has  given  way 
to  anger  ?  or  how  can  it  extricate  itself  from  a  confused 
mixture,  the  greater  part  of  which  consists  of  the  lower 
qualities  ?  "  But,"  argues  our  adversary,  "  some  men  when 
in  anger  control  themselves."  Do  they  so  far  control  them- 
selves that  they  do  nothing  which  anger  dictates,  or  some- 


58  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

what  ?  If  they  do  nothing  thereof,  it  becomes  evident  that 
anger  is  not  essential  to  the  conduct  of  affairs,  although 
your  sect  advocated  it  as  possessing  greater  strength  than 

reason Finally,  I  ask,  is  anger  stronger  or  weaker 

than  reason  ?  If  stronger,  how  can  reason  impose  any 
check  upon  it,  since  it  is  only  the  less  powerful  that  obey  : 
if  weaker,  then  reason  is  competent  to  effect  its  ends 
without  anger,  and  does  not  need  the  help  of  a  less  power- 
ful quality.  "  But  some  angry  men  remain  consistent  and 
control  themselves."  When  do  they  do  so.^  It  is  when 
their  anger  is  disappearing  and  leaving  them  of  its  own 
accord,  not  when  it  was  red-hot,  for  then  it  was  more 
powerful  than  they.  "What  then?  do  not  men,  even  in  the 
height  of  their  anger,  sometimes  let  their  enemies  go  whole 
and  unhurt,  and  refrain  from  injuring  them  ?  "  They  do  : 
but  when  do  they  do  so  ?  It  is  when  one  passion  over- 
powers another,  and  either  fear  or  greed  gets  the  upper 
hand  for  a  while.  On  such  occasions,  it  is  not  thanks  to 
reason  that  anger  is  stilled,  but  owing  to  an  untrustworthy 
and  fleeting  truce  between  the  passions. 

IX.  In  the  next  place,  anger  has  nothing  useful  in  itself, 
and  does  not  rouse  up  the  mind  to  warlike  deeds  :  for  a 
virtue,  being  self-sufficient,  never  needs  the  assistance  of  a 
vice  :  whenever  it  needs  an  impetuous  effort,  it  does  not 
become  angry,  but  rises  to  the  occasion,  and  excites  or  soothes 
itself  as  far  as  it  deems  requisite,  just  as  the  machines  which 
hurl  darts  may  be  twisted  to  a  greater  or  lesser  degree  of 
tension  at  the  manager's  pleasure.  "  Anger,"  says  Aris- 
totle, "  is  necessary,  nor  can  any  fight  be  won  without  it, 
unless  it  fills  the  mind,  and  kindles  up  the  spirit.  It  must, 
however,  be  made  use  of,  not  as  a  general,  but  as  a  soldier." 
Now  this  is  untrue;  for  if  it  listens  to  reason  and  follows 
whither  reason  leads,  it  is  no  longer  anger,  whose  charac- 
teristic is  obstinacy :  if,  again,  it  is  disobedient  and  will 
not  be  quiet  when  ordered,  but  is  carried  away  by  its  own 


X.]  OF   ANGER.  59 

wilfal  and  headstrong  spirit,  it  is  then  as  nseless  an  aid  to 
the  mind  as  a  soldier  who  disregards  the  sounding  of  the 
retreat  would  be  to  a  general.  If,  therefore,  anger  allows 
limits  to  be  imposed  upon  it,  it  must  be  called  by  some  other 
name,  and  ceases  to  be  anger,  which  I  understand  to  be  un- 
bridled and  unmanageable  :  and  if  it  does  not  allow  limits 
to  be  imposed  upon  it,  it  is  harmful  and  not  to  be  counted 
among  aids :  wherefore  either  anger  is  not  anger,  or  it  is 
useless  :  for  if  any  man  demands  the  infliction  of  punish- 
ment, not  because  he  is  eager  for  the  punishment  itself,  but 
because  it  is  right  to  inflict  it,  he  ought  not  to  be  counted 
as  an  angry  man  :  that  will  be  the  useful  soldier,  who 
knows  how  to  obey  orders  :  the  passions  cannot  obey  any 
more  than  they  can  command. 

X.  For  this  cause  reason  will  never  call  to  its  aid  blind 
and  fierce  impulses,  over  whom  she  herself  possesses  no 
authority,  and  which  she  never  can  restrain  save  by  setting 
against  them  similar  and  eqnally  powerful  passions,  as  for 
example,  fear  against  anger,  anger  against  sloth,  greed 
against  timidity.  May  virtue  never  come  to  such  a  pass,  that 
reason  should  fly  for  aid  to  vices  !  The  mind  can  find  no 
safe  repose  there,  it  must  needs  be  shaken  and  tempest- 
tossed  if  it  be  safe  only  because  of  its  own  defects,  if  it  can- 
not be  brave  without  anger,  diligent  without  greed,  quiet 
without  fear  :  such  is  the  despotism  under  which  a  man 
must  live  if  he  becomes  the  slave  of  a  passion.  Are  you 
not  ashamed  to  put  virtues  under  the  patronage  of  vices  ? 
Then,  too,  reason  ceases  to  have  any  power  if  she  can  do 
nothing  without  passion,  and  begins  to  be  equal  and  like 
unto  passion ;  for  what  difference  is  there  between  them  if 
passion  without  reason  be  as  rash  as  reason  without  passion 
is  helpless  ?  They  are  both  on  the  same  level,  if  one  cannot 
exist  without  the  other.  Yet  who  could  endure  that  pas- 
sion should  be  made  equal  to  reason  ?  "  Then,"  says  our 
adversary,  "  passion  is  useful,  provided  it  be  moderate." 


'60  MINOR   DIALOGUES  [bK.  III. 

Nay,  only  if  it  be  useful  by  nature  :  but  if  it  be  disobedient 
to  authority  and  reason,  all  that  we  gain  by  its  moderation  is 
that  the  less  there  is  of  it,  the  less  harm  it  does  :  wherefore 
•a  moderate  passion  is  nothing  but  a  moderate  evil. 

XI.  "  But,"  argues  he,  "  against  our  enemies  anger  is 
necessary."     In  no  case  is  it  less  necessary;  since  our  attacks 
ought  not  to  be  disorderly,  but  regulated  and  under  con- 
trol.    What,  indeed,  is  it  except  anger,  so  ruinous  to  itself, 
that    overthrows    barbarians,   who    have    so    much    more 
bodily  strength  than  we,  and  are  so  much  better  able  to 
■endure  fatigue  ?    Grladiators,  too,  protect   themselves  by 
skill,   but  expose  themselves    to    wounds  when   they  are 
angry.     Moreover,  of  what  use  is  anger,  when  the  same 
end  can  be  arrived  at  by  reason  ?    Do  you  suppose  that 
a  hunter  is  angry  with  the  beasts  he  kills  ?    Yet  he  meets 
them  when  they  attack  him,  and  follows  them  when  they 
flee  from  him,  all  of  which  is  managed  by  reason  without 
anger.     When  so  many  thousands  of  Cimbri  and  Teutones 
poured  over  the  Alps,  what  was  it  that  caused  them    to 
perish    so    completely,  that    no   messenger,  only  common 
rumour,  carried  the  news  of   that    great   defeat  to  their 
homes,  except  that  with  them  anger  stood   in   the   place 
of  courage  ?  and  anger,  although  sometimes  it  overthrows 
and  breaks  to  pieces  whatever  it  meets,  yet  is  more  often 
its  own  destruction.    Who  can  be  braver  than  the  Germans  ? 
who  charge  more  boldly  ?    who  have  more  love  of  arms, 
among  which  they  are   born   and  bred,  for  which   alone 
they  care,  to  the  neglect  of  everything  else  ?     Who  can  be 
more  hardened  to  undergo  every  hardship,  since  a  large  part 
of  them  have  no  store  of  clothing  for  the  body,  no  shelter 
from  the  continual  rigour  of  the  climate  :   yet  Spaniards 
and  Gauls,  and  even   the   unwarlike   races   of  Asia  and 
Syria    cut    them    down    before    the    main    legion   comes 
within   sight,   nothing  but   their  own    irascibility   expos- 
ing   them    to     death.       Give    but   intelligence    to    those 


CH.  XII.]  OP   ANGER.  Q\ 

minds,  and  discipline  to  those  bodies  of  theirs,  which 
now  are  ignorant  of  vicious  refinements,  luxury,  and 
wealth, — to  say  nothing  more,  we  should  certainly  be- 
obliged  to  go  back  to  the  ancient  Roman  habits  of  life- 
By  what  did  Fabius  restore  the  shattered  forces  of  the> 
state,  except  by  knowing  how  to  delay  and  spin  out  time,, 
which  angry  men  know  not  how  to  do  ?  The  empire,  which 
then  was  at  its  last  gasp,  would  have  perished  if  Fabius; 
had  been  as  daring  as  anger  urged  him  to  be  :  but  he  took 
thought  about  the  condition  of  affairs,  and  after  counting- 
his  force,  no  part  of  which  could  be  lost  without  everything 
being  lost  with  it,  he  laid  aside  thoughts  of  grief  and  re- 
venge, turning  his  sole  attention  to  what  was  profitable- 
and  to  making  the  most  of  his  opportunities,  and  conquered 
his  anger  before  he  conquered  Hannibal.  What  did  Scipio 
do  ?  Did  he  not  leave  behind  Hannibal  and  the  Car- 
thaginian army,  and  all  with  whom  he  had  a  right  to  be- 
angry,  and  carry  over  the  war  into  Africa  with  such  de- 
liberation that  he  made  his  enemies  think  him  luxurious 
and  lazy  ?  What  did  the  second  Scipio  do  ?  Did  he  not, 
remain  a  long,  long  time  before  Numantia,  and  bear  with 
calmness  the  reproach  to  himself  and  to  his  country  that 
Numantia  took  longer  to  conquer  than  Carthage  ?  By 
blockading  and  investing  his  enemies,  he  brought  them  to. 
such  straits  that  they  perished  by  their  own  swords.. 
Anger,  therefore,  is  not  useful  even  in  wars  or  battles :  for- 
it  is  prone  to  rashness,  and  while  trying  to  bring  others 
into  danger,  does  not  guard  itself  against  danger.  The  most 
trustworthy  virtue  is  that  which  long  and  carefully  considers. 
itself,  controls  itself,  and  slowly  and  deliberately  brings, 
itself  to  the  front. 

XII.  "  What,  then,"  asks  our  adversary,  "  is  a  good  man 
not  to  be  angry  if  he  sees  his  father  murdered  or  his, 
mother  outraged  ?  "  No,  he  will  not  be  angry,  but  will 
avenge  them,   or  protect  them.     Why   do  you   fear  that, 


62  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

filial  piety  will  not  prove  a  sufficient  spur  to  him  even 
without  anger  ?  You  may  as  well  say — "  What  then  ? 
When  a  good  man  sees  his  father  or  his  son  being  cut 
down,  I  suppose  he  will  not  weep  or  faint,"  as  we  see  women 
do  whenever  any  trifling  rumour  of  danger  reaches  them. 
The  good  man  will  do  his  duty  without  disturbance  or 
fear,  and  he  will  perform  the  duty  of  a  good  man,  so 
as  to  do  nothing  unworthy  of  a  man.  My  father  will 
be  murdered :  then  I  will  defend  him :  he  has  been  slain, 
then  I  will  avenge  him,  not  because  I  am  grieved,  but 
because  it  is  my  duty.  "  Grood  men  are  made  angry 
l3y  injuries  done  to  their  friends."  When  you  say  this, 
Theophrastus,  you  seek  to  throw  discredit  upon  more 
manly  maxims ;  you  leave  the  judge  and  appeal  to  the 
mob  :  because  every  one  is  angry  when  such  things  befall 
bis  own  friends,  you  suppose  that  men  will  decide  that  it  is 
their  duty  to  do  what  they  do  :  for  as  a  rule  every  man  con- 
siders a  passion  which  he  recognises  to  be  a  righteous  one. 
But  he  does  the  same  thing  if  the  hot  water  is  not  ready 
for  his  drink,  if  a  glass  be  broken,  or  his  shoe  splashed 
with  mud.  It  is  not  filial  piety,  but  weakness  of  mind  that 
produces  this  anger,  as  children  weep  when  they  lose  their 
parents,  just  as  they  do  when  they  lose  their  toys.  To  feel 
anger  on  behalf  of  one's  friends  does  not  show  a  loving, 
but  a  weak  mind :  it  is  admirable  and  worthy  conduct  to 
stand  forth  as  the  defender  of  one's  parents,  children, 
friends,  and  countrymen,  at  the  call  of  duty  itself,  acting 
of  one's  own  free  will,  forming  a  deliberate  judgment,  and 
looking  forward  to  the  future,  not  in  an  impulsive,  frenzied 
fashion.  No  passion  is  more  eager  for  revenge  than  anger, 
and  for  that  very  reason  it  is  unapt  to  obtain  it :  being 
over  hasty  and  frantic,  like  almost  all  desires,  it  hinders 
itself  in  the  attainment  of  its  own  object,  and  therefore 
has  never  been  useful  either  in  peace  or  war  :  for  it  makes 
peace  like  war,  and  when  in  arms  forgets  that  Mars  belongs 


CH.  XTII.]  OP   ANGER.  63 

to  neither  side,  and  falls  into  the  power  of  the  enemy, 
because  it  is  not  in  its  own.  In  the  next  place,  vices  ought 
not  to  be  received  into  common  use  because  on  some  occa- 
sions they  have  effected  somewhat :  for  so  also  fevers  are 
good  for  certain  kinds  of  ill-health,  but  nevertheless  it  is 
better  to  be  altogether  free  from  them :  it  is  a  hateful 
mode  of  cure  to  owe  one's  health  to  disease.  Similarly, 
although  anger,  like  poison,  or  falling  headlong,  or  being 
shipwrecked,  may  have  unexpectedly  done  good,  yet  it 
ouffht  not  on  that  account  to  be  classed  as  wholesome,  for 
poisons  have  often  proved  good  for  the  health. 

XIII.  Moreover,  qualities  which  we  ought  to  possess 
become  better  and  more  desirable  the  more  extensive  they 
are:  if  justice  is  a  good  thing,  no  one  will  say  that  it 
would  be  better  if  any  part  were  subtracted  from  it;  if 
bravery  is  a  good  thing,  no  one  would  wish  it  to  be  in  any 
way  curtailed :  consequently  the  greater  anger  is,  the 
better  it  is,  for  who  ever  objected  to  a  good  thing  being 
increased  ?  Bat  it  is  not  expedient  that  anger  should  be 
increased  :  therefore  it  is  not  expedient  that  it  should  exist 
at  all,  for  that  which  grows  bad  by  increase  cannot  be  a 
good  thing.  "Anger  is  useful,"  says  our  adversary,  "because 
it  makes  men  more  ready  to  fight."  According  to  that 
mode  of  reasoning,  then,  drunkenness  also  is  a  good  thing, 
for  it  makes  men  insolent  and  daring,  and  many  use  their 
weapons  better  when  the  worse  for  liquor :  nay,  according 
to  that  reasoning,  also,  you  may  call  frenzy  and  madness 
essential  to  strength,  because  madness  often  makes  men 
stronger.  Why,  does  not  fear  often  by  the  rule  of  contraries 
make  men  bolder,  and  does  not  the  terror  of  death  rouse 
up  even  arrant  cowards  to  join  battle  ?  Yet  anger,  drunken- 
ness, fear,  and  the  like,  are  base  and  temporary  incite- 
ments to  action,  and  can  furnish  no  arms  to  virtue,  which 
has  no  need  of  vices,  although  they  may  at  times  be  of 
some   little   assistance   to  sluggish  and  cowardly  minds. 


64  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

No  man  becomes  braver  through  anger,  except  one  who 
without  anger  would  not  have  been  brave  at  all :  anger 
does  not  therefore  come  to  assist  courage,  but  to  take  its 
place.  What  are  we  to  say  to  the  argument  that,  if  anger 
were  a  good  thing  ft  would  attach  itself  to  all  the  best 
men  ?  Yet  the  most  irascible  of  creatures  are  infants,  old 
men,  and  sick  people.  Every  weakling  is  naturally  prone 
to  complaint. 

XIV.  It  is  impossible,  says  Theophrastus,  for  a  good 
man  not  to  be  angry  with  bad  men.  By  this  reasoning, 
the  better  a  man  is,  the  more  irascible  he  will  be  :  yet  will 
he  not  rather  be  more  tranquil,  more  free  from  passions, 
and  hating  no  one  :  indeed,  what  reason  has  he  for  hating 
sinners,  since  it  is  error  that  leads  them  into  such  crimes  ? 
now  it  does  not  become  a  sensible  man  to  hate  the  erring, 
since  if  so  he  will  hate  himself:  let  him  think  how  many 
things  he  does  contrary  to  good  morals,  how  much  of 
what  he  has  done  stands  in  need  of  pardon,  and  he  will 
soon  become  angry  with  himself  also,  for  no  righteous 
judge  pronounces  a  different  judgment  in  his  own  case  and 
in  that  of  others.  No  one,  I  affirm,  will  be  found  who  can 
acquit  himself.  Every  one  when  he  calls  himself  innocent 
looks  rather  to  external  witnesses  than  to  his  own  con- 
science. How  much  more  philanthropic  it  is  to  deal  with 
the  erring  in  a  gentle  and  fatherly  spirit,  and  to  call  them 
into  the  right  course  instead  of  hunting  them  down  ?  When 
a  man  is  wandering  about  our  fields  because  he  has  lost  his 
way,  it  is  better  to  place  him  on  the  right  path  than  to 
drive  him  away. 

XY.  The  sinner  ought,  therefore,  to  be  corrected  both 
by  warning  and  by  force,  both  by  gentle  and  harsh  means, 
and  may  be  made  a  better  man  both  towards  himself  and 
others  by  chastisement,  but  not  by  anger  :  for  who  is  angry 
with  the  patient  whose  wounds  he  is  tending  ?  "  But  they 
cannot  be  corrected,  and  there  is  nothing  in  them  that  is 


CH.  xvl]  op  anger.  65 

gentle  or  that  admits  of  good  hope."  Then  let  them  be 
removed  from  mortal  society,  if  they  are  likely  to  deprave 
every  one  with  whom  they  come  in  contact,  and  let  them 
cease  to  be  bad  men  in  the  only  way  in  which  they  can : 
yet  let  this  be  done  without  hatred :  for  what  reason  have 
I  for  hating  the  man  to  whom  I  am  doing  the  greatest 
good,  since  I  am  rescuing  him  from  himself  ?  Does  a 
man  hate  his  own  limbs  when  he  cuts  them  off  ?  That  is 
not  an  act  of  anger,  but  a  lamentable  method  of  healing. 
We  knock  mad  dogs  on  the  head,  we  slaughter  fierce  and 
savage  bulls,  and  we  doom  scabby  sheep  to  the  knife,  lest 
they  should  infect  our  flocks  :  we  destroy  monstrous  births, 
and  we  also  drown  our  children  if  they  are  born  weakly  or 
unnaturally  formed ;  to  separate  what  is  useless  from  what 
is  sound  is  an  act,  not  of  anger,  but  of  reason.  N'othing 
becomes  one  who  inflicts  punishment  less  than  anger, 
because  the  punishment  has  all  the  more  power  to  work 
reformation  if  the  sentence  be  pronounced  with  deliberate 
judgment.  This  is  why  Socrates  said  to  the  slave,  "I 
would  strike  you,  were  I  not  angry."  He  put  off  the  cor- 
rection of  the  slave  to  a  calmer  season ;  at  the  moment,  he 
corrected  himself.  Who  can  boast  that  he  has  his  passions 
under  control,  when  Socrates  did  not  dare  to  trust  himself 
to  his  anger  ? 

XVI.  We  do  not,  therefore,  need  an  angry  chastiser 
to  punish  the  erring  and  wicked :  for  since  anger  is  a 
crime  of  the  mind,  it  is  not  right  that  sins  should  be 
punished  by  sin.  "  What !  am  I  not  to  be  angry  with  a 
robber,  or  a  poisoner?"  No:  for  I  am  not  angry  with 
myself  when  I  bleed  myself.  I  apply  all  kinds  of  punish- 
ment as  remedies.  You  are  as  yet  only  in  the  first  stage  of 
error,  and  do  not  go  wrong  seriously,  although  you  do  so 
often  :  then  I  will  try  to  amend  you  by  a  reprimand  given 
first  in  private  and  then  in  public.^  You,  again,  have  gone 
^  The  gospel  rule,  Matt.  XA'iii.  15. 
F 


66  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

too  far  to  be  restored  to  virtue  by  words  alone  ;  you  must 
be  kept  in  order  by  disgrace.  For  the  next,  some  stronger 
measure  is  required,  something  that  he  can  feel  must  be 
branded  upon  him  ;  you,  sir,  shall  be  sent  into  exile  and  to 
a  desert  place.  The  next  man's  thorough  villany  needs 
harsher  remedies :  chains  and  public  imprisonment  must 
be  applied  to  him.  You,  lastly,  have  an  incurably  vicious 
mind,  and  add  crime  to  crime :  you  have  come  to  such  a 
pass,  that  you  are  not  influenced  by  the  arguments  which 
are  never  wanting  to  recommend  evil,  but  sin  itself  is  to 
you  a  sufficient  reason  for  sinning :  you  have  so  steeped 
your  whole  heart  in  wickedness,  that  wickedness  cannot 
be  taken  from  you  without  bringing  your  heart  with  it. 
Wretched  man  !  you  have  long  sought  to  die ;  we  will  do 
you  good  service,  we  will  take  away  that  madness  from 
which  you  suffer,  and  to  you  who  have  so  long  lived  a  misery 
to  yourself  and  to  others,  we  will  give  the  only  good  thing 
which  remains,  that  is,  death.  Why  should  I  be  angry  with 
a  man  just  when  I  am  doing  him  good  :  sometimes  the  truest 
form  of  compassion  is  to  put  a  man  to  death.  If  I  were  a 
skilled  and  learned  physician,  and  were  to  enter  a  hospital, 
or  a  rich^  man's  house,  I  should  not  have  prescribed  the 
same  treatment  for  all  the  patients  who  were  suffering 
from  various  diseases.  I  see  different  kinds  of  vice  in 
the  vast  number  of  different  minds,  and  am  called  in  to 
heal  the  whole  body  of  citizens  :  let  us  seek  for  the  re- 
medies proper  for  each  disease.  This  man  may  be  cured 
by  his  own  sense  of  honour,  that  one  by  travel,  that  one 
by  pain,  that  one  by  want,  that  one  by  the  sword.  If, 
therefore,  it  becomes  my  duty  as  a  magistrate  to  put  on 
black  ^  robes,  and  summon  an  assembly  by  the  sound  of  a 

^  Divitis  (where  there  might  be  an  army  of  slaves). 

'^  "  Lorsque  le  Preteur  devoit  prononcer  la  sentence  d'un  eoupable,  il 
se  depouilloit  de  la  robe  pretexte,  et  se  revetoit  alors  d'une  simple 
tunique,  ou  d'une  autre  robe,  presque  usee,  et  d'un  blanc  sale  (sordida) 


CH,  XYI.]  OF    ANGER.  67 

trumpet/  I  shall  walk  to  the  seat  of  judgment  not  in  a  rage 
or  in  a  hostile  spirit,  but  with  the  countenance  of  a  judge ; 
I  shall  pronounce  the  formal  sentence  in  a  grave  and  gentle 
rather  than  a  furious  voice,  and  shall  bid  them  proceed 

ou  d'un  grivS  tres  fonce  tirant  sur  le  noir  {toga  pulla),  telle  qu'en  por- 
toient  a  Rome  le  peuple  et  les  pauvres  (puUaque  paupertas).  Dans  les 
jours  solemnelles  et  marques  par  un  deuil  public,  les  Senateurs  quit- 
toient  le  laticlave,  et  les  Magistrats  la  pretexte.  La  pourpre,  la  hache, 
les  faisceaux,  aucun  de  ces  signes  exterieurs  de  leur  dignite  ne  les  dis- 
tinguoient  alors  des  autres  citoyens  :  sine  insigiiihtis  Magisfratus.  Mais 
ce  n'etoit  pas  seulement  pendant  le  temps  ou  la  ville  etoit  plongee  dans 
le  deuil  et  dans  I'affliction,  que  les  magistrats  s'habilloient  comme  le 
peuple  {sordidam  vestem  induehant)  ;  ils  en  usoient  de  meme  lorsqu'ils 
devoient  condamner  a  mort  un  citoyen.  C'est  dans  ces  tristes  circon- 
stances  qu'ils  quitt(Ment  la  pretexte  et  prenoient  la  robe  de  deuil  : 
perversam  vestem.     (No  doubt  "inside  out." — J.  E.  B.  M. ) 

"  On  pourroit  supposer  avec  assez  de  vraisemblance  que  par  cette  ex- 
pression,  Seneque  a  voulu   faire   allusion  a  ce  changement 

Peut-etre  les  Magistrats  qui  devoient  juger  a  mort  un  citoyen,  portoient 
ils  aussi  leur  robe  I'enversee,  ou  la  jettoient  ils  de  travers  ou  confusement 
sur  leurs  epaules,  pour  mieux  peindi'e  par  ce  desordre  le  trouble  de  leur 
esprit.  Si  cette  conjecture  est  vraie,  comme  je  serais  assez  porte  a  croire, 
1'  expression  ^erj;(!?rsa  vestis,  dont  Seneque  s'est  servi  ici,indiqueroit  plus 
d'un  simple  changement  d'habit,"  &c.  (La  Grange's  translation  of 
Seneca,  edited  by  J.  A.  Naigeon.     Paris,  1778.) 

^  "  Ceci  fait  allusion  a  une  coutume  que  Caius  Gracchus  pretend  avoir 
ete  pratiquee  de  tout  terns  a  Rome.  *  Lorsqu'un  citoyen,"  dit  il,  "  avoit 
un  proces  criminel  qui  alloit  a  la  mort,  s'il  refusoit  d'obeir  aux  somma- 
tions  qui  lui  etoient  faites ;  le  jour  qu'on  devoit  le  juger,  en  envoyoit  des 
le  matin  a  la  porte  de  sa  maison  un  Officier  I'appeller  au  son  de  la  trora- 
pette,  et  jamais  avant  que  cette  ceremonie  eftt  ete  observee,  les  Juges  ne 
donneroient  leur  voix  contre  lui :  tant  ces  hommes  sages,'  ajoute  ce 
hardi  Tribun,  '  avoient  de  retenue  et  de  precaution  dans  leurs  juge- 
nients,  quand  il  s'agissoit  de  la  vie  d'un  citoyen.'" 

"  Cetoit  de  m6me  au  son  de  la  trompette  que  I'on  convoquoit  le  peuple, 
lorsqu'on  devoit  faire  mourir  un  citoyen,  afin  qu'il  f<it  temoin  de  ce  triste 
spectacle,  et  que  la  supplice  du  coupable  put  lui  servir  d'exemple.  Tacite 
dit  qu'un  Astrologue,  nomme  P.  Marcius,  fftt  execute,  selon  I'ancien 
usage,  hors  de  la  porte  Esquiline,  en  presence  du  peuple  Romain  que 
les  Consuls  firent  convoquer  au  son  de  la  trompette.  (Tac.  Ann.  II.  32.) 
L.  Grom. 


68  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  111. 

sternly,  yet  not  angrily.  Even  when  I  command  a  criminal 
to  be  beheaded,  when  I  sew  a  parricide  up  in  a  sack,  when 
I  send  a  man  to  be  punished  by  military  law,  when  I  fling 
a  traitor  or  public  enemy  down  the  Tarpeian  Rock,  I  shall 
be  free  from  anger,  and  shall  look  and  feel  just  as  though 
I  were  crushing  snakes  and  other  venomous  creatures. 
"  Anger  is  necessary  to  enable  us  to  punish."  What  ?  do 
you  think  that  the  law  is  angry  with  men  whom  it  does  not 
know,  whom  it  has  never  seen,  who  it  hopes  will  never 
exist  ?  We  ought,  therefore,  to  adopt  the  law's  frame  of 
mind,  which  does  not  become  angry,  but  merely  defines 
offences :  for,  if  it  is  right  for  a  good  man  to  be  angry  at 
wicked  crimes,  it  will  also  be  right  for  him  to  be  moved 
with  envy  at  the  prosperity  of  wicked  men  :  what,  indeed, 
is  more  scandalous  than  that  in  some  cases  the  very  men, 
for  whose  deserts  no  fortune  could  be  found  bad  enough, 
should  flourish  and  actually  be  the  spoiled  children  of  suc- 
cess ?  Yet  he  will  see  their  afiluence  without  envy,  just  as 
he  sees  their  crimes  without  anger  :  a  good  judge  condemns 
wrongful  acts,  but  does  not  hate  them.  "  What  then  ? 
when  the  wise  man  is  dealing  with  something  of  this  kind, 
will  his  mind  not  be  affected  by  it  and  become  excited  be- 
yond its  usual  wont  ?  "  I  admit  that  it  will  :  he  will 
experience  a  slight  and  trifling  emotion  ;  for,  as  Zeno  says^ 
*'  Even  in  the  mind  of  the  wise  man,  a  scar  remains  after 
the  wound  is  quite  healed."  He  will,  therefore,  feel  certain 
hints  and  semblances  of  passions ;  but  he  will  be  free  from 
the  passions  themselves. 

XVII.  Aristotle  says  that "  certain  passions,  if  one  makes. 
a  proper  use  of  them,  act  as  arms  "  :  which  would  be  true 
if,  like  weapons  of  war,  they  could  be  taken  up  or  laid 
aside  at  the  pleasure  of  their  wielder.  These  arms,  which 
Aristotle  assigns  to  virtue,  fight  of  their  own  accord, 
do  not  wait  to  be  seized  by  the  hand,  and  possess  a  man 
instead  of  being  possessed  by  him.     We  have  no  need  of 


CH.  XYII.]  OF    ANGER.  69 

external  weapons,  nature  has  equipped  us  sufficiently 
by  giving  us  reason.  She  has  bestowed  this  weapon  upon 
us,  which  is  strong,  imperishable,  and  obedient  to  our  will, 
not  uncertain  or  capable  of  being  turned  against  its  master. 
Reason  suffices  by  itself  not  merely  to  take  thought  for  the 
future,  but  to  manage  our  affairs  :^  what,  then,  can  be  more 
foolish  than  for  reason  to  beg  anger  for  protection,  that  is, 
for  what  is  certain  to  beg  of  what  is  uncertain  ?  what  is 
trustworthy  of  what  is  faithless  ?  what  is  whole  of  what  is 
sick  ?  What,  indeed  ?  since  reason  is  far  more  powerful 
by  itself  even  in  performing  those  operations  in  which  the 
help  of  anger  seems  especially  needful :  for  when  reason 
has  decided  that  a  particular  thing  should  be  done,  she 
perseveres  in  doing  it ;  not  being  able  to  find  anything 
better  than  herself  to  exchange  with.  She,  therefore, 
abides  by  her  purpose  when  it  has  once  been  formed; 
whereas  anger  is  often  overcome  by  pity :  for  it  possesses 
no  firm  strength,  but  merely  swells  like  an  empty  bladder, 
and  makes  a  violent  beginning,  just  like  the  winds  which 
rise  from  the  earth  and  are  caused  by  rivers  and  marshes, 
which  blow  furiously  without  any  continuance :  anger 
begins  with  a  mighty  rush,  and  then  falls  away,  becoming 
fatigued  too  soon  :  that  which  but  lately  thought  of  nothing 
but  cruelty  and  novel  forms  of  torture,  is  become  quite 
softened  and  gentle  when  the  time  comes  for  punishment 
to  be  inflicted.  Passion  soon  cools,  whereas  reason  is 
always  consistent :  yet  even  in  cases  where  anger  has  con- 
tinued to  burn,  it  often  happens  that  although  there  may 
be  many  who  deserve  to  die,  yet  after  the  death  of  two  or 
three  it  ceases  to  slay.  Its  first  onset  is  fierce,  just  as  the 
teeth  of  snakes  when  first  roused  from  their  lair  are 
venomous,  but  become  harmless  after  repeated  bites  have 
exhausted    their    poison.       Consequently   those    who   are 

^  I.e.  not  only  for  counsel  but  for  action. 


70  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

equally  guilty  are  not  equally  punished,  and  often  he  who 
has  done  less  is  punished  more,  because  he  fell  in  the  way 
of  anger  when  it  was  fresher.  It  is  altogether  irregular ; 
at  one  time  it  runs  into  undue  excess,  at  another  it  falls 
short  of  its  duty  :  for  it  indulges  its  own  feelings  and  gives 
sentence  according  to  its  caprices,  will  not  listen  to  evidence, 
allows  the  defence  no  opportunity  of  being  heard,  clings  to 
what  it  has  wrongly  assumed,  and  will  not  suffer  its  opinion 
to  be  wrested  from  it,  even  when  it  is  a  mistaken  one. 

XVIII.  Reason  gives  each  side  time  to  plead ;  moreover, 
she  herself  demands  adjournment,  that  she  may  have  suffi- 
cient scope  for  the  discovery  of  the  truth ;  whereas  anger 
is  in  a  hurry  :  reason  wishes  to  give  a  just  decision  ;  anger 
wishes  its  decision  to  be  thought  just :  reason  looks  no 
further  than  the  matter  in  hand ;  anger  is  excited  by 
empty  matters  hovering  on  the  outskirts  of  the  case  :  it  is 
irritated  by  anything  approaching  to  a  confident  demeanour, 
a  loud  voice,  an  unrestrained  speech,  dainty  apparel,  high- 
flown  pleading,  or  popularity  with  the  public.  It  often 
condemns  a  man  because  it  dislikes  his  patron  ;  it  loves  and 
maintains  error  even  when  truth  is  staring  it  in  the  face. 
It  hates  to  be  proved  wrong,  and  thinks  it  more  honour- 
able to  persevere  in  a  mistaken  line  of  conduct  than  to 
retract  it.  I  remember  Gnaeus  Piso,  a  man  who  was  free 
from  many  vices,  yet  of  a  perverse  disposition,  and  one 
who  mistook  harshness  for  consistency.  In  his  anger  he 
ordered  a  soldier  to  be  led  off  to  execution  because  he  had 
returned  from  furlough  without  his  comrade,  as  though 
he  must  have  murdered  him  if  he  could  not  show  him. 
When  the  man  asked  for  time  for  search,  he  would  not 
grant  it:  the  condemned  man  was  brought  outside  the 
rampart,  and  was  just  offering  his  neck  to  the  axe,  when 
suddenly  there  appeared  his  comrade  who  was  thought  to  be 
slain.  Hereupon  the  centurion  in  charge  of  the  execution 
bade  the  guardsman  sheathe  his  sword,  and  led  the  condemned 


CH.  XIX.]  OF  ANGER.  71 

man  back  to  Piso,  to  restore  to  him  the  innocence  which 
Fortune  had  restored  to  the  soldier.  They  were  led  into  his 
presence  by  their  fellow  soldiers  amid  the  great  joy  of  the 
whole  camp,  embracing  one  another  and  accompanied  by  a 
vast  crowd.  Piso  mounted  the  tribunal  in  a  fury  and  ordered 
them  both  to  be  executed,  both  him  who  had  not  murdered 
and  him  who  had  not  been  slain.  What  could  be  more  un- 
worthy than  this  ?  Because  one  was  proved  to  be  innocent, 
two  perished.  Piso  even  added  a  third :  for  he  actually 
ordered  the  centurion,  who  had  brought  back  the  con- 
demned man,  to  be  put  to  death.  Three  men  were  set  up 
to  die  in  the  same  place  because  one  was  innocent.  0,  how 
clever  is  anger  at  inventing  reasons  for  its  frenzy  !  "  You," 
it  says,  "  I  order  to  be  executed,  because  you  have  been  con- 
demned to  death  :  you,  because  you  have  been  the  cause  of 
your  comrade's  condemnation,  and  you,  because  when  ordered 
to  put  him  to  death  you  disobeyed  your  general."  He  dis- 
covered the  means  of  charging  them  with  three  crimes, 
because  he  could  find  no  crime  in  them. 

XIX.  Irascibility,  I  say,  has  this  fault — it  is  loth  to  be 
ruled  :  it  is  angry  with  the  truth  itself,  if  it  comes  to  light 
against  its  will :  it  assails  those  whom  it  has  marked  for  its 
victims  with  shouting  and  riotous  noise  and  gesticulation  of 
the  entire  body,  together  with  reproaches  and  curses.  Not 
thus  does  reason  act :  but  if  it  must  be  so,  she  silently  and 
quietly  wipes  out  whole  households,  destroys  entire  families 
of  the  enemies  of  the  state,  together  with  their  wives  and 
children,  throws  down  their  very  dwellings,  levels  them  with 
the  ground,  and  roots  out  the  names  of  those  who  are  the 
foes  of  liberty.  This  she  does  without  grinding  her  teeth  or 
shaking  her  head,  or  doing  anything  unbecoming  to  a  judge, 
whose  countenance  ought  to  be  especially  calm  and  composed 
at  the  time  when  he  is  pronouncing  an  important  sentence. 
"What  need  is  there,"  asks  Hieronymus,  "  for  you  to  bite 
your  own  lips  when  you  want  to  strike  some  one  ?  "  What 


72  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

would  lie  have  said,  had  he  seen  a  proconsul  leap  down 
from  the  tribunal,  snatch  the  fasces  from  the  lictor,  and 
tear  his  own  clothes  because  those  of  others  were  not  torn 
as  fast  as  he  wished.  Why  need  you  upset  the  table, 
throw  down  the  drinking  cups,  knock  yourself  against  the 
columns,  tear  your  hair,  smite  your  thigh  and  your  breast  ? 
How  vehement  do  you  suppose  anger  to  be,  if  it  thus  turns 
back  upon  itself,  because  it  cannot  find  vent  on  another  as 
fast  as  it  wishes?  Such  men,  therefore,  are  held  back  by  the 
bystanders  and  are  begged  to  become  reconciled  with  them- 
selves. But  he  who  while  free  from  anger  assigns  to  each  man 
the  penalty  which  he  deserves,  does  none  of  these  things. 
He  often  lets  a  man  go  after  detecting  his  crime,  if  his  peni- 
tence for  what  he  has  done  gives  good  hope  for  the  future* 
if  he  perceives  that  the  man's  wickedness  is  not  deeply 
rooted  in  his  mind,  but  is  only,  as  the  saying  is,  skin- 
deep.  He  will  grant  impunity  in  cases  where  it  will  hurt 
neither  the  receiver  nor  the  giver.  In  some  cases  he 
will  punish  great  crimes  more  leniently  than  lesser  ones, 
if  the  former  were  the  result  of  momentary  impulse,  not  of 
cruelty,  while  the  latter  were  instinct  with  secret,  under- 
hand, long-practised  craftiness.  The  same  fault,  committed 
by  two  separate  men,  will  not  be  visited  by  him  with  the 
same  penalty,  if  the  one  was  guilty  of  it  through  careless- 
ness, the  other  with  a  premeditated  intention  of  doing  mis- 
chief. In  all  dealing  with  crime  he  will  remember  that 
the  one  form  of  punishment  is  meant  to  make  bad  men 
better,  and  the  other  to  put  them  out  of  the  way.  In  either 
case  he  will  look  to  the  future,  not  to  the  past :  for,  as 
Plato  says,  "  no  wise  man  punishes  any  one  because  he  has 
sinned,  but  that  he  may  sin  no  more  :  for  what  is  past 
cannot  be  recalled,  but  what  is  to  come  may  be  checked." 
Those,  too,  whom  he  wishes  to  make  examples  of  the  ill 
success  of  wickedness,  he  executes  publicly,  not  merely  in 
order  that  they  themselves  may  die,  but  that  by  dying  they 


CH.  XX.]  OF  ANGER.  73 

may  deter  others  from  doing  likewise.  You  see  how  free 
from  any  mental  disturbance  a  man  ought  to  be  who  has 
to  weigh  and  consider  all  this,  when  he  deals  with  a  matter 
which  ought  to  be  handled  with  the  utmost  care,  I  mean, 
the  power  of  life  and  death.  The  sword  of  justice  is  ill- 
placed  in  the  hands  of  an  angry  man. 

XX.  Neither  ought  it  to  be  believed  that  anger  con- 
tributes anything  to  magnanimity :  what  it  gives  is  not 
magnanimity  but  vain  glory.  The  increase  which  disease 
produces  in  bodies  swollen  with  morbid  humours  is 
not  healthy  growth,  but  bloated  corpulence.  All  those 
whose  madness  raises  them  above  human  considerations, 
believe  themselves  to  be  inspired  with  high  and  sublime 
ideas ;  but  there  is  no  solid  ground  beneath,  and  what  is 
built  without  foundation  is  liable  to  collapse  in  ruin. 
Anger  has  no  ground  to  stand  upon,  and  does  not  rise 
from  a  firm  and  enduring  foundation,  but  is  a  windy,  empty 
quality,  as  far  removed  from  true  magnanimity  as  fool- 
hardiness  from  courage,  boastfulness  from  confidence, 
gloom  from  austerity,  cruelty  from  strictness.  There  is,  I 
say,  a  great  difference  between  a  lofty  and  a  proud  mind  : 
anger  brings  about  nothing  grand  or  beautiful.  On  the 
other  hand,  to  be  constantly  irritated  seems  to  me  to  be 
the  part  of  a  languid  and  unhappy  mind,  conscious  of  its 
own  feebleness,  like  folk  with  diseased  bodies  covered  with 
sores,  who  cry  out  at  the  lightest  touch.  Anger,  therefore, 
is  a  vice  which  for  the  most  part  affects  women  and 
children.  "Yet  it  affects  men  also."  Because  many  men, 
too,  have  womanish  or  childish  intellects.  "  But  what  are  we 
to  say  ?  do  not  some  words  fall  from  angry  men  which  appear 
to  flow  from  a  great  mind  ?  "  Yes,  to  those  who  know  not 
what  true  greatness  is  :  as,  for  example,  that  foul  and 
hateful  saying,  "  Let  them  hate  me,  provided  they  fear  me," 
which  you  may  be  sure  was  written  in  Sulla's  time.  I 
know  not  which  was  the  worse  of  the  two  things  he  wished 


74  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  III. 

for,  that  he  might  be  hated  or  that  he  might  be  feared.  It 
occurs  to  his  mind  that  some  day  people  will  curse  him, 
plot  against  him,  crush  him  :  what  prayer  does  he  add  to 
this  ?  May  all  the  gods  curse  him — for  discovering  a 
cure  for  hate  so  worthy  of  it.  "  Let  them  hate."  How  ? 
"  Provided  they  obey  me  ?  "  No  !  "  Provided  they  ap- 
prove of  me  ?  "  No !  How  then  ?  "  Provided  they  fear 
me !  "  I  would  not  even  be  loved  upon  such  terms.  Do 
you  imagine  that  this  was  a  very  spirited  saying  ?  You 
are  wrong :  this  is  not  greatness,  but  monstrosity.  You 
should  not  believe  the  words  of  angry  men,  whose  speech  is 
very  loud  and  menacing,  while  their  mind  within  them  is 
as  timid  as  possible :  nor  need  you  suppose  that  the  most 
eloquent  of  men,  Titus  Livius,  was  right  in  describing 
somebody  as  being  "  of  a  great  rather  than  a  good  dispo- 
sition." The  things  cannot  be  separated  :  he  must  either 
be  good  or  else  he  cannot  be  great,  because  I  take  great- 
ness of  mind  to  mean  that  it  is  unshaken,  sound  throughout, 
firm  and  uniform  to  its  very  foundation ;  such  as  cannot 
exist  in  evil  dispositions.  Such  dispositions  may  be  ter- 
rible, frantic,  and  destructive,  but  cannot  possess  greatness ; 
because  greatness  rests  upon  goodness,  and  owes  its  strength 
to  it.  "  Yet  by  speech,  action,  and  all  outward  show  they 
will  make  one  think  them  great."  True,  they  will  say 
something  which  you  may  think  shows  a  great  spirit,  like 
Gains  Caesar,  who  when  angry  with  heaven  because  it  inter- 
fered with  his  ballet-dancers,  whom  he  imitated  more 
carefully  than  he  attended  to  them  when  they  acted,  and 
because  it  frightened  his  revels  by  its  thunders,  surely 
ill-directed,^  challenged  Jove  to  fight,  and  that  to  the  death, 
shouting  the  Homeric  verse  : — 

"  Carry  me  off,  or  I  will  carry  thee  !  " 

^  Prorstis  parum  certis  [i.e.,  the  thunderbolts  missed  their  aim  in  not 
striking  him  dead). 


CH.  XXI.]  OF   ANGEE.  75 

How  great  was  his  madness  !  He  must  have  believed 
either  that  he  could  not  be  hurt  even  by  Jupiter  himself,  or 
that  he  could  hurt  even  Jupiter  itself.  I  imagine  that  this, 
saying  of  his  had  no  small  weight  in  nerving  the  minds  of  the 
conspirators  for  their  task  :  for  it  seemed  to  be  the  height 
of  endurance  to  bear  one  who  could  not  bear  Jupiter. 

XXI.  There  is  therefore  nothing  great  or  noble  in  anger^ 
even  when  it  seems  to  be  powerful  and  to  contemn  both 
gods  and  men  alike.  Any  one  who  thinks  that  anger 
produces  greatness  of  mind,  would  think  that  luxury 
produces  it:  such  a  man  wishes  to  rest  on  ivory,  to  be* 
clothed  with  purple,  and.  roofed  with  gold ;  to  remove 
lands,  embank  seas,  hasten  the  course  of  rivers,  suspend 
woods  in  the  air.  He  would  think  that  avarice  shows 
greatness  of  mind:  for  the  avaricious  man  broods  over 
heaps  of  gold  and  silver,  treats  whole  provinces  as  merely 
fields  on  his  estate,  and  has  larger  tracts  of  country  under 
the  charge  of  single  bailiffs  than  those  which  consuls  once 
drew  lots  to  administer.  He  would  think  that  lust  shows 
greatness  of  mind :  for  the  lustful  man  swims  across; 
straits,  castrates  troops  of  boys,  and  puts  himself  within 
reach  of  the  swords  of  injured  husbands  with  complete  scorn 
of  death.  Ambition,  too,  he  would  think  shows  greatness 
of  mind  :  for  the  ambitious  man  is  not  content  with  office 
once  a  year,  bat,  if  possible,  would  fill  the  calendar  of 
dignities  with  his  name  alone,  and  cover  the  whole  world 
with  his  titles.  It  matters  nothing  to  what  heights  or 
lengths  these  passions  may  proceed  :  they  are  narrow,  piti- 
able, grovelling.  Virtue  alone  is  lofty  and  sublime,  nor  is 
anything  great  which  is  not  at  the  same  time  tranquil. 


7(y 


THE    FOURTH   BOOK   OF  THE   DIALOGUES 

OF    L.    ANNAEUS    SENECA, 

ADDRESSED  TO   NOVATUS. 

OF   ANGEK. 

Book  II. 

1\ /r  Y  first  book,  Novatus,  had  a  more  abundant  subject : 
^^ ^  for  carriages  roll  easily  down  hill:^  now  we 
must  proceed  to  drier  matters.  The  question  before  us 
is  whether  anger  arises  from  deliberate  choice  or  from 
impulse,  that  is,  whether  it  acts  of  its  own  accord  or  like 
the  greater  part  of  those  passions  which  spring  up  within 
us  without  our  knowledge.  It  is  necessary  for  our  debate 
to  stoop  to  the  consideration  of  these  matters,  in  order  that 
it  may  afterwards  be  able  to  rise  to  loftier  themes ;  for 
likewise  in  our  bodies  the  parts  which  are  first  set  in  order 
are  the  bones,  sinews,  and  joints,  which  are  by  no  means 
fair  to  see,  albeit  they  are  the  foundation  of  our  frame  and 
essential  to  its  life  :  next  to  them  come  the  parts  of  which 
all  beauty  of  face  and  appearance  consists;  and  after  these, 
colour,  which  above  all  else  charms  the  eye,  is  applied  last 
of  all,  when  the  rest  of  the  body  is  complete.  There  is  no 
doubt  that  anger  is  roused  by  the  appearance  of  an  injury 

^  "  VcMculorum  ridicule  Koch,^^  says  Gertz,  justly,  '^vitioi-um  makes 
excellent  sense." — J.  E.  B.  M. 


CH.  II.]  OF   ANGEK.  "^7 

being  done  :  but  the  question  before  us  is,  whether  anger 
straightway  follows  the  appearance,  and  springs  up  without 
assistance  from  the  mind,  or  whether  it  is  roused  with  the 
sympathy  of  the  mind.  Our  (the  Stoics')  opinion  is,  that  anger 
can  venture  upon  nothing  by  itself,  without  the  approval  of 
mind:  for  to  conceive  the  idea  of  a  wrong  having  been 
done,  to  long  to  avenge  it,  and  to  join  the  two  propositions, 
that  we  ought  not  to  have  been  injured  and  that  it  is  our 
duty  to  avenge  our  injuries,  cannot  belong  to  a  mere  im- 
pulse which  is  excited  without  our  consent.  That  impulse 
is  a  simple  act;  this  is  a  complex  one,  and  composed  of 
several  parts.  The  man  understands  something  to  have 
happened  :  he  becomes  indignant  thereat :  he  condemns 
the  deed ;  and  he  avenges  it.  All  these  things  cannot  be 
done  without  his  mind  agreeing  to  those  matters  which 
touched  him. 

II.  Whither,  say  you,  does  this  inquiry  tend  ?  That 
we  may  know  what  anger  is :  for  if  it  springs  up  against, 
our  will,  it  never  will  yield  to  reason  :  because  all  the 
motions  which  take  place  without  our  volition  are  beyond 
our  control  and  unavoidable,  such  as  shivering  when  cold 
water  is  poured  over  us,  or  shrinking  when  we  are  touched 
in  certain  places.  Men's  hair  rises  up  at  bad  news,  their 
faces  blush  at  indecent  words,  and  they  are  seized  with 
dizziness  when  looking  down  a  precipice ;  and  as  it  is  not 
in  our  power  to  prevent  any  of  these  things,  no  reasoning 
can  prevent  their  taking  place.  But  anger  can  be  put  to 
flight  by  wise  maxims  ;  for  it  is  a  voluntary  defect  of  th& 
mind,  and  not  one  of  those  things  which  are  evolved  by 
the  conditions  of  human  life,  and  which,  therefore,  may 
happen  even  to  the  wisest  of  us.  Among  these  and  in  the 
first  place  must  be  ranked  that  thrill  of  the  mind  which 
seizes  us  at  the  thought  of  wrongdoing.  We  feel  this  even 
when  witnessing  the  mimic  scenes  of  the  stage,  or  when 
reading  about  things  that  happened  long  ago.     We  often 


78  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IY. 

feel  angry  with  Clodias  for  banishing  Cicero,  and  with 
Antonins  for  murdering  him.  Who  is  not  indignant  with 
the  wars  of  Marius,  the  proscriptions  of  Sulla?  who  is  not 
■enraged  against  Theodotus  and  Achillas  and  the  boy  king 
who  dared  to  commit  a  more  than  boyish  crime  ?  ^  Some- 
times songs  excite  us,  and  quickened  rhythm  and  the 
martial  noise  of  trumpets  ;  so,  too,  shocking  pictures  and 
the  dreadful  sight  of  tortures,  however  well  deserved,  affect 
our  minds.  Hence  it  is  that  we  smile  when  others  are 
smiling,  that  a  crowd  of  mourners  makes  us  sad,  and  that 
we  take  a  glowing  interest  in  another's  battles  ;  all  of 
which  feelings  are  not  anger,  any  more  than  that  which 
clouds  our  brow  at  the  sight  of  a  stage  shipwreck  is  sad- 
ness, or  what  we  feel,  when  we  read  how  Hannibal  after 
Cannae  beset  the  walls  of  Rome,  can  be  called  fear.  All 
these  are  emotions  of  minds  which  are  loth  to  be  moved, 
and  are  not  passions,  but  rudiments  which  may  grow  into 
passions.  So,  too,  a  soldier  starts  at  the  sound  of  a 
trumpet,  although  he  may  be  dressed  as  a  civilian  and  in 
the  midst  of  a  profound  peace,  and  camp  horses  prick  up 
their  ears  at  the  clash  of  arms.  It  is  said  that  Alexander, 
when  Xenophantus  was  singing,  laid  his  hand  upon  his 
weapons. 

III.  None  of  these  things  which  casually  influence  the 
mind  deserve  to  be  called  passions :  the  mind,  if  I  may  so 
express  it,  rather  suffers  passions  to  act  upon  itself  than 
forms  them.  A  passion,  therefore,  consists  not  in  being 
affected  by  the  sights  which  are  presented  to  us,  but  in 
giving  way  to  our  feelings  and  following  up  these  chance 
promptings  :  for  whoever  imagines  that  paleness,  bursting 
into  tears,  lustful  feelings,  deep  sighs,  sudden  flashes  of 
the  eyes,  and  so  forth,  are  signs  of  passion  and  betray  the 

'  The  murder  of  Pompeius,  B.C.  48.  Achillas  and  Theodotus  acted 
under  the  nominal  orders  of  Ptolemy  XII.,  Cleopatra's  brother,  then 
about  seventeen  years  of  age. 


CH.  IV.]  OF    ANGER.  79 

state  of  the  mind,  is  mistaken,  and  does  not  understand  that 
these  are  merely  impulses  of  the  body.  Consequently,  the 
bravest  of  men  often  turns  pale  while  he  is  putting  on  his 
armour ;  when  the  signal  for  battle  is  given,  the  knees  of 
the  boldest  soldier  shake  for  a  moment ;  the  heart  even  of 
a  great  general  leaps  into  his  mouth  just  before  the  lines 
clash  together,  and  the  hands  and  feet  even  of  the  most 
eloquent  orator  grow  stiff  and  cold  while  he  is  preparing 
to  begin  his  speech.  Anger  must  not  merely  move,  but 
break  out  of  bounds,  being  an  impulse :  now,  no  impulse 
can  take  place  without  the  consent  of  the  mind :  for  it 
cannot  be  that  we  should  deal  with  revenge  and  punish- 
ment without  the  mind  being  cognisant  of  them.  A  man 
may  think  himself  injured,  may  wish  to  avenge  his  wrongs, 
and  then  may  be  persuaded  by  some  reason  or  other  to 
give  up  his  intention  and  calm  down  :  I  do  not  call  that 
anger,  it  is  an  emotion  of  the  mind  which  is  under  the 
control  of  reason.  Anger  is  that  which  goes  beyond 
reason  and  carries  her  away  with  it :  wherefore  the  first 
confusion  of  a  man's  mind  when  struck  by  what  seems  an 
injury  is  no  more  anger  than  the  apparent  injury  itself  :  it 
is  the  subsequent  mad  rush,  which  not  only  receives  the 
impression  of  the  apparent  injury,  but  acts  upon  it  as  true, 
that  is  anger,  being  an  exciting  of  the  mind  to  revenge, 
which  proceeds  from  choice  and  deliberate  resolve.  There 
never  has  been  any  doubt  that  fear  produces  flight,  and 
anger  a  rush  forward;  consider,  therefore,  whether  you 
suppose  that  anything  can  be  either  sought  or  avoided 
without  the  participation  of  the  mind. 

ly.  Furthermore,  that  you  may  know  in  what  manner 
passions  begin  and  swell  and  gain  spirit,  learn  that  the  first 
emotion  is  involuntary,  and  is,  as  it  were,  a  preparation  for 
a  passion,  and  a  threatening  of  one.  The  next  is  combined 
with  a  wish,  though  not  an  obstinate  one,  as,  for  example, 
"  It  is  my  duty  to  avenge  myself,  because  I  have  been  in- 


80  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

jared,"  or  "  It  is  right  that  this  man  should  be  punished, 
because  he  has  committed  a  crime."  The  third  emotion  is 
already  beyond  our  control,  because  it  overrides  reason,  and 
wishes  to  avenge  itself,  not  if  it  be  its  duty,  but  whether 
or  no.  We  are  not  able  by  means  of  reason  to  escape  from 
that  first  impression  on  the  mind,  any  more  than  we  can 
escape  from  those  things  which  we  have  mentioned  as  oc- 
curring to  the  body :  we  cannot  prevent  other  people's  yawns 
temping  us  to  yawn  :^  we  cannot  help  winking  when  fingers 
are  suddenly  darted  at  our  eyes.  Reason  is  unable  to  over- 
come these  habits,  which  perhaps  might  be  weakened  by 
practice  and  constant  watchfulness :  they  differ  from  an 
emotion  which  is  brought  into  existence  and  brought  to  an 
end  by  a  deliberate  mental  act. 

V.  We  must  also  enquire  whether  those  whose  cruelty 
knows  no  bounds,  and  who  delight  in  shedding  human 
blood,  are  angry  when  they  kill  people  from  whom  they 
have  received  no  injury,  and  who  they  themselves  do  not 
think  have  done  them  any  injury ;  such  as  were  Apollo- 
dorus  or  Phalaris.  This  is  not  anger,  it  is  ferocity  :  for  it 
does  not  do  hurt  because  it  has  received  injury :  but  is 
even  willing  to  receive  injury,  provided  it  may  do  hurt. 
It  does  not  long  to  inflict  stripes  and  mangle  bodies  to- 
avenge  its  wrongs,  but  for  its  own  pleasure.  What  then 
are  we  to  say  ?  This  evil  takes  its  rise  from  anger  ;  for 
anger,  after  it  has  by  long  use  and  indulgence  made  a  man 
forget  mercy,  and  driven  all  feelings  of  human  fellowship 
from  his  mind,  passes  finally  into  cruelty.  Such  men 
therefore  laugh,  rejoice,  enjoy  themselves  greatly,  and  are 
as  unlike  as  possible  in  countenance  to  angry  men,  since 
cruelty  is  their  relaxation.  It  is  said  that  when  Hannibal 
saw  a  trench  full  of  human  blood,  he  exclaimed,  "  0,  what 

^  See  "  De  Clem."  ii.  6,  4, 1  emended  many  years  ago  evbg  xf^vovTog 
fxe  TESXHKtv  into  L  x-»  A*e  TAKEXHNtj/  iirefjog  i  "when  one  has. 
yawned,  the  other  yawns." — J.  E.  B.  M. 


CH.  Yl.]  OF   ANGER.  81 

a  beauteous  sight !  "  How  much  more  beautiful  would  he 
have  thought  it,  if  it  had  filled  a  river  or  a  lake  ?  Why 
should  we  wonder  that  you  should  be  charmed  with  this 
sight  above  all  others,  you  who  were  born  in  bloodshed  and 
brought  up  amid  slaughter  from  a  child  ?  Fortune  will 
follow  you  and  favour  your  cruelty  for  twenty  years,  and 
will  display  to  you  everywhere  the  sight  that  you  love. 
You  will  behold  it  both  at  Trasumene  and  at  CannaD,  and 
lastly  at  your  own  city  of  Carthage.  Yolesus,  who  not 
long  ago,  under  the  Emperor  Augustus,  was  proconsul  of 
Asia  Minor,  after  he  had  one  day  beheaded  three  hundred 
persons,  strutted  out  among  the  corpses  with  a  haughty 
air,  as  though  he  had  performed  some  grand  and  notable 
exploit,  and  exclaimed  in  Grreek,  "  What  a  kingly  action  !  '* 
What  would  this  man  have  done,  had  he  been  really  a 
king  ?  This  was  not  anger,  but  a  greater  and  an  incurable 
disease. 

Yl.  "  Virtue,"  argues  our  adversary,  "  ought  to  be  angry 
with  what  is  base,  just  as  she  approves  of  what  is  honour- 
able." What  should  we  think  if  he  said  that  virtue  ought 
to  be  both  mean  and  great;  yet  this  is  what  he  means ^ 
when  he  wants  her  to  be  raised  and  lowered,  because  joy  at 
a  good  action  is  grand  and  glorious,  while  anger  at 
another's  sin  is  base  and  befits  a  narrow  mind  :  and  virtue 
will  never  be  guilty  of  imitating  vice  while  she  is  repressing 
it ;  she  considers  anger  to  deserve  punishment  for  it- 
self, since  it  often  is  even  more  criminal  than  the  faults 
which  which  it  is  angry.  To  rejoice  and  be  glad  is  the 
proper  and  natural  function  of  virtue  :  it  is  as  much  be- 
neath her  dignity  to  be  angry,  as  to  mourn  :  now,  sorrow  is 
the  companion  of  anger,  and  all  anger  ends  in  sorrow,  either 
from  remorse  or  from  failure.  Secondly,  if  it  be  the  part  of 
the  wise  man  to  be  angry  with  sins,  he  will  be  more  angry 
the  greater  they  are,  and  will  often  be  angry :  from  which  it 
follows  that  the  wise  man  will  not  only  be  angry  but  iras- 

G 


82  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IY. 

cible.  Yet  if  we  do  not  believe  that  great  and  frequent 
anger  can  find  any  place  in  the  wise  man's  mind,  why 
should  we  not  set  him  altogether  free  from  this  passion  ? 
for  there  can  be  no  limit,  if  he  ought  to  be  angry  in  pro- 
portion to  what  every  man  does  :  because  he  will  either  be 
unjust  if  he  is  equally  angry  at  unequal  crimes,  or  he  will 
be  the  most  irascible  of  men,  if  he  blazes  into  wrath  as 
often  as  crimes  deserve  his  anger. 

YII.  What,  too,  can  be  more  unworthy  of  the  wise  man, 
than  that  his  passions  should  depend  upon  the  wickedness 
of  others  ?  If  so,  the  great  Socrates  will  no  longer  be  able 
to  return  home  with  the  same  expression  of  countenance 
with  which  he  set  out.  Moreover,  if  it  be  the  duty  of  the 
wise  man  to  be  angry  at  base  deeds,  and  to  be  excited  and 
saddened  at  crimes,  then  is  there  nothing  more  unhappy 
than  the  wise  man,  for  all  his  life  will  be  spent  in  anger 
and  grief.  What  moment  will  there  be  at  which  he  will 
not  see  something  deserving  of  blame  ?  whenever  he  leaves 
bis  house,  he  will  be  obliged  to  walk  among  men  who  are 
criminals,  misers,  spendthrifts,  profligates,  and  who  are  happy 
in  being  so  :  he  can  turn  his  eyes  in  no  direction  without 
their  finding  something  to  shock  them.  He  will  faint,  if 
lie  demands  anger  from  himself  as  often  as  reason  calls  for 
it.  All  these  thousands  who  are  hurrying  to  the  law  courts 
at  break  of  day,  how  base  are  their  causes,  and  how  much 
baser  their  advocates  ?  One  impugns  his  father's  will, 
when  he  would  have  done  better  to  deserve  it ;  another 
appears  as  the  accuser  of  his  mother  ;  a  third  comes  to  in- 
form against  a  man  for  committing  the  very  crime  of  which 
he  himself  is  yet  more  notoriously  guilty.  The  judge,  too, 
is  chosen  to  condemn  men  for  doing  what  he  himself  has 
done,  and  the  audience  takes  the  wrong  side,  led  astray  by 
the  fine  voice  of  the  pleader. 

VIII.  Why  need  I  dwell  upon  individual  cases  ?  Be 
assured,  when  you  see  the  Forum  crowded  with  a  multitude, 


CH.  IX.]  OF   ANGER.  88 

the  Saepta  ^  swarming  with  people,  or  the  great  Circus,  in 
which  the  greater  part  of  the  people  find  room  to  show 
themselves  at  once,  that  among  them  there  are  as  many- 
vices  as  there  are  men.  Among  those  whom  you  see  in 
the  garb  of  peace  there  is  no  peace  :  for  a  small  profit  any 
one  of  them  will  attempt  the  ruin  of  another :  no  one  can 
gain  anything  save  by  another's  loss.  They  hate  the  for- 
tunate and  despise  the  unfortunate :  they  grudgingly  endure 
the  great,  and  oppress  the  small :  they  are  fired  by  divers 
lusts :  they  would  wreck  everything  for  the  sake  of  a  little 
pleasure  or  plunder  :  they  live  as  though  they  were  in  a 
school  of  gladiators,  fighting  with  the  same  people  with 
whom  they  live :  it  is  like  a  society  of  wild  beasts,  save 
that  beasts  are  tame  with  one  another,  and  refrain  from 
biting  their  own  species,  whereas  men  tear  one  another, 
and  gorge  themselves  upon  one  another.  They  differ  from 
dumb  animals  in  this  alone,  that  the  latter  are  tame  with 
those  who  feed  them,  whereas  the  rage  of  the  former  preys 
on  those  very  persons  by  whom  they  were  brought  up. 

IX.  The  wise  man  will  never  cease  to  be  angry,  if  he 
once  begins,  so  full  is  every  place  of  vices  and  crimes. 
More  evil  is  done  than  can  be  healed  by  punishment :  men 
seem  engaged  in  a  vast  race  of  wickedness.  Every  day 
there  is  greater  eagerness  to  sin,  less  modesty.  Throwing 
aside  all  reverence  for  what  is  better  and  more  just,  lust 
rushes  whithersoever  it  thinks  fit,  and  crimes  are  no  longer 
committed  by  stealth,  they  take  place  before  our  eyes,  and 
wickedness  has  become  so  general  and  gained  such  a  footing 
in  everyone's  breast  that  innocence  is  no  longer  rare,  but 
no  longer  exists.  Do  men  break  the  law  singly,  or  a  few 
at  a  time  ?  Nay,  they  rise  in  all  quarters  at  once,  as  though 
obeying  some  universal  signal,  to  wipe  out  the  boundaries 
of  right  and  wrong. 

^  The  voting-place  in  the  Campus  Martins. 


84  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

•'  Host  is  not  safe  from  guest, 
Father-in-law  from  son  ;  but  seldom  love 
Exists  'twixt  brothers ;  wives  long  to  destroy 
Their  husbands,  husbands  long  to  slay  their  wives. 
Stepmothers  deadly  aconite  prepare 
And  child-heirs  wonder  when  their  sires  will  die." 

And  how  small  a  part  of  men's  crimes  are  these !  The 
poet  ^  has  not  described  one  people  divided  into  two  hostile 
camps,  parents  and  children  enrolled  on  opposite  sides, 
Rome  set  on  fire  by  the  hand  of  a  Roman,  troops  of  fierce 
horsemen  scouring  the  country  to  track  out  the  hiding- 
places  of  the  proscribed,  wells  defiled  with  poison,  plagues 
created  by  human  hands,  trenches  dug  by  children  round 
their  beleaguered  parents,  crowded  prisons,  conflagra- 
tions that  consume  whole  cities,  gloomy  tyrannies,  secret 
plots  to  establish  despotisms  and  ruin  peoples,  and  men 
glorying  in  those  deeds  which,  as  long  as  it  was  possible  to 
repress  them,  were  counted  as  crimes  —I  mean  rape,  debau- 
chery, and   lust Add   to  these,  public    acts  of 

national  bad  faith,  broken  treaties,  everything  that  cannot 
defend  itself  carried  off  as  plunder  by  the  stronger, 
knaveries,  thefts,  frauds,  and  disownings  of  debt  such  as 
three  of  our  present  law-courts  would  not  suffice  to  deal 
with.  If  you  want  the  wise  man  to  be  as  angry  as  the 
atrocity  of  men's  crimes  requires,  he  must  not  merely  be 
angry,  but  must  go  mad  with  rage. 

X.  You  will  rather  think  that  we  should  not  be 
angry  with  people's  faults;  for  what  shall  we  say  of 
one  who  is  angry  with  those  who  stumble  in  the  dark, 
or  with  deaf  people  who  cannot  hear  his  orders,  or  with 
children,  because  they  forget  their  duty  and  interest 
themselves  in  the  games  and  silly  jokes  of  their  com- 
panions ?     What  shall  we  say  if  you  choose  to  be  angry 

*  Ovid,  Metamorphoses,  i.,  144,  sqq.  The  same  lines  are  quoted  in 
the  essay  on  Benefits,  v.  15. 


CH.  X.]  OF   ANGER.  86 

with  weaklings  for  being  sick,  for  growing  old,  or  becoming 
fatigued  ?  Among  the  other  misfortunes  of  humanity  is 
this,  that  men's  intellects  are  confused,  and  they  not  only 
cannot  help  going  wrong,  but  love  to  go  wrong.  To  avoid 
being  angry  with  individuals,  you  must  pardon  the  whole 
mass,  you.  must  grant  forgiveness  to  the  entire  human  race. 
If  you  are  angry  with  young  and  old  men  because  they  do 
wrong,  you  will  be  angry  with  infants  also,  for  they  soon 
will  do  wrong.  Does  any  one  become  angry  with  children, 
who  are  too  young  to  comprehend  distinctions  ?  Yet,  to 
be  a  human  being  is  a  greater  and  a  better  excuse  than  to 
be  a  child.  Thus  are  we  born,  as  creatures  liable  to  as 
many  disorders  of  the  mind  as  of  the  body;  not  dull  and 
slow-witted,  but  making  a  bad  use  of  our  keenness  of  wit, 
and  leading  one  another  into  vice  by  our  example.  He 
who  follows  others  who  have  started  before  him  on  the 
wrong  road  is  surely  excusable  for  having  wandered  on ^  the 
highway.  A  general's  severity  may  be  shown  in  the  case 
of  individual  deserters ;  but  where  a  whole  army  deserts, 
it  must  needs  be  pardoned.  What  is  it  that  puts  a  stop  to 
the  wise  man's  anger  ?  It  is  the  number  of  sinners.  He 
perceives  how  unjust  and  how  dangerous  it  is  to  be  angry 
with  vices  which  all  men  share.  Heraclifcus,  whenever  he 
came  out  of  doors  and  beheld  around  him  such  a  number 
of  men  who  were  living  wretchedly,  nay,  rather  perishing 
wretchedly,  used  to  weep  :  he  pitied  all  those  who  met  him 
joyous  and  happy.  He  was  of  a  gentle  but  too  weak  dispo- 
sition :  and  he  himself  was  one  of  those  for  whom  he  ought  to 
have  wept.  Democritus,  on  the  other  hand,  is  said  never  to 
have  appeared  in  public  without  laughing ;  so  little  did  men's 
serious  occupations  appear  serious  to  him.  What  room  is 
there  for  anger  ?  Everything  ought  either  to  move  us  to 
tears  or  to  laughter.     The  wise  man  will  not  be  angry  with 

^  I.e. ,  he  can  plead  that  he  kept  the  beaten  track. 


86  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

sinners.  Why  not  ?  Because  lie  knows  that  no  one  is  born 
wise,  but  becomes  so :  he  knows  that  very  few  wise  men 
are  produced  in  any  age,  because  he  thoroughly  under- 
stands the  circumstances  of  human  life.  Now,  no  sane  man 
is  angry  with  nature :  for  what  should  we  say  if  a  man  chose 
to  be  surprised  that  fruit  did  not  hang  on  the  thickets  of  a 
forest,  or  to  wonder  at  bushes  and  thorns  not  being  covered 
with  some  useful  berry?  No  one  is  angry  when  nature 
excuses  a  defect.  The  wise  man,  therefore,  being  tranquil, 
and  dealing  candidly  with  mistakes,  not  an  enemy  to  but  an 
improver  of  sinners,  will  go  abroad  every  day  in  the  follow- 
ing frame  of  mind  : — "  Many  men  will  meet  me  who  are 
drunkards,  lustful,  ungrateful,  greedy,  and  excited  by  the 
frenzy  of  ambition."  He  will  view  all  these  as  benignly  as 
a  physician  does  his  patients.  When  a  man's  ship  leaks 
freely  through  its  opened  seams,  does  he  become  angry  with 
the  sailors  or  the  ship  itself  ?  No ;  instead  of  that,  he 
tries  to  remedy  it :  he  shuts  out  some  water,  bales  out 
some  other,  closes  all  the  holes  that  he  can  see,  and  by 
ceaseless  labour  counteracts  those  which  are  out  of  sight 
and  which  let  water  into  the  hold ;  nor  does  he  relax  his 
efforts  because  as  much  water  as  he  pumps  out  runs  in 
again.  We  need  a  long-breathed  struggle  against  per- 
manent and  prolific  evils ;  not,  indeed,  to  quell  them,  but 
merely  to  prevent  their  overpowering  us. 

XI.  "  Anger,"  says  our  opponent,  "  is  useful,  because  it 
avoids  contempt,  and  because  it  frightens  bad  men."  Now, 
in  the  first  place,  if  anger  is  strong  in  proportion  to  its 
threats,  it  is  hateful  for  the  same  reason  that  it  is  terrible  : 
and  it  is  more  dangerous  to  be  hated  than  to  be  despised. 
If,  again,  it  is  without  strength,  it  is  much  more  exposed 
to  contempt,  and  cannot  avoid  ridicule :  for  what  is  more 
flat  than  anger  when  it  breaks  out  into  meaningless  ravings  ? 
Moreover,  because  some  things  are  somewhat  terrible,  they 
are  not  on  that  account  desirable :  nor  does  wisdom  wish  it 


CH.  XI.]  OF    ANGER.  87 

to  be  said  of  the  wise  man,  as  it  is  of  a  wild  beast,  that  the 
fear  which  he  inspires  is  as  a  weapon  to  him.  Why,  do 
we  not  fear  fever,  gout,  consuming  ulcers  ?  and  is  there, 
for  that  reason,  any  good  in  them  ?  nay ;  on  the  other 
hand,  they  are  all  despised  and  thought  to  be  foul  and  base, 
and  are  for  this  very  reason  feared.  So,  too,  anger  is  in 
itself  hideous  and  by  no  means  to  be  feared ;  yet  it  is  feared 
by  many,  just  as  a  hideous  mask  is  feared  by  children.  How 
can  we  answer  the  fact  that  terror  always  works  back  to 
him  who  inspired  it,  and  that  no  one  is  feared  who  is  him- 
self at  peace  ?  At  this  point  it  is  well  that  you  should 
remember  that  verse  of  Laberius,  which,  when  pronounced 
in  the  theatre  during  the  height  of  the  civil  war,  caught 
the  fancy  of  the  whole  people  as  though  it  expressed  the 
national  feeling : — 

"He  must  fear  many,  whom  so  many  fear." 

Thus  has  nature  ordained,  that  whatever  becomes  great  by 
causing  fear  to  others  is  not  free  from  fear  itself.  How 
disturbed  lions  are  at  the  faintest  noises  !  How  excited 
those  fiercest  of  beasts  become  at  strange  shadows,  voices, 
or  smells  !  Whatever  is  a  terror  to  others,  fears  for  itself. 
There  can  be  no  reason,  therefore,  for  any  wise  man  to  wish 
to  be  feared,  and  no  one  need  think  that  anger  is  anything 
great  because  it  strikes  terror,  since  even  the  most  despicable 
things  are  feared,  as,  for  example,  noxious  vermin  whose 
bite  is  venomous :  and  since  a  string  set  with  feathers 
stops  the  largest  herds  of  wild  beasts  and  guides  them  into 
traps,  it  is  no  wonder  that  from  its  effect  it  should  be 
named  a  "  Scarer."^  Foolish  creatures  are  frightened  by 
foolish  things  :  the  movement  of  chariots  and  the  sight  of 
their  wheels  turning  round  drives  lions  back  into  their 
cage  :  elephants  are  frightened  at  the  cries  of  pigs  :  and  so 
also  we  fear  anger  just  as  children  fear  the  dark,  or  wild 

^  De  Clem.  i.  12,  5. 


88  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

beasts  fear  red  feathers  :  it  has  in  itself  nothing  solid  or 
valiant,  but  it  affects  feeble  minds. 

XII.  "Wickedness,"  says  our  adversary,  "must  be  re- 
moved from  the  system  of  nature,  if  you  wish  to  remove 
anger :  neither  of  which  things  can  be  done."  In  the  first 
place,  it  is  possible  for  a  man  not  to  be  cold,  although  accord- 
ing to  the  system  of  nature  it  may  be  winter-time,  nor  yet 
to  suffer  from  heat,  although  it  be  summer  according  to  the 
almanac.  He  may  be  protected  against  the  inclement  time 
of  the  year  by  dwelling  in  a  favoured  spot,  or  he  may  have 
so  trained  his  body  to  endurance  that  it  feels  neither  heat  nor 
cold.  Next,  reverse  this  saying: — You  must  remove  anger 
from  your  mind  before  you  can  take  virtue  into  the  same, 
because  vices  and  virtues  cannot  combine,  and  none  can 
at  the  same  time  be  both  an  angry  man  and  a  good  man, 
any  more  than  he  can  be  both  sick  and  well.  *'  It  is  not 
possible,"  says  he,  "  to  remove  anger  altogether  from  the 
mind,  nor  does  human  nature  admit  of  it."  Yet  there  is 
nothing  so  hard  and  difficult  that  the  mind  of  man  cannot 
overcome  it,  and  with  which  unremitting  study  will  not 
render  him  familiar,  nor  are  there  any  passions  so  fierce 
and  independent  that  they  cannot  be  tamed  by  discipline- 
The  mind  can  carry  out  whatever  orders  it  gives  itself : 
some  have  succeeded  in  never  smiling :  some  have  for- 
bidden themselves  wine,  sexual  intercourse,  or  even  drink 
of  all  kinds.  Some,  who  are  satisfied  with  short  hours  of 
rest,  have  learned  to  watch  for  long  periods  without  weari- 
ness. Men  have  learned  to  run  upon  the  thinnest  ropes 
even  when  slanting,  to  carry  huge  burdens,  scarcely  within 
the  compass  of  human  strength,  or  to  dive  to  enormous 
depths  and  suffer  themselves  to  remain  under  the  sea 
without  any  chance  of  drawing  breath.  There  are  a 
thousand  other  instances  in  which  application  has  con- 
quered all  obstacles,  and  proved  that  nothing  which  the 
mind  has  set  itself  to  endure  is  difficult.     The  men  whom  I 


CH.  XIII.]  OF   ANGER.  89 

have  just  mentioned  gain  either  no  reward  or  one  that  is 
nn worthy  of  their  unwearied  application  ;  for  what  great 
thing  does  a  man  gain  by  applying  his  intellect  to  walking 
upon  a  tight  rope  ?  or  to  placing  great  burdens  upon  his 
shoulders  ?  or  to  keeping  sleep  from  his  eyes  ?  or  to 
reaching  the  bottom  of  the  sea?  and  yet  their  patient 
labour  brings  all  these  things  to  pass  for  a  trifling  reward. 
Shall  not  we  then  call  in  the  aid  of  patience,  we  whom 
such  a  prize  awaits,  the  unbroken  calm  of  a  happy  life  ? 
How  great  a  blessing  is  it  to  escape  from  anger,  that  chief 
of  all  evils,  and  therewith  from  frenzy,  ferocity,  cruelty,  and 
madness,  its  attendants  ? 

XIII.  There  is  no  reason  why  we  should  seek  to  defend 
such  a  passion  as  this  or  excuse  its  excesses  by  declaring  it 
to  be  either  useful  or  unavoidable.  What  vice,  indeed,  is 
without  its  defenders  ?  yet  this  is  no  reason  why  you  should 
declare  anger  to  be  ineradicable.  The  evils  from  which  we 
suffer  are  curable,  and  since  we  were  born  with  a  natural 
bias  towards  good,  nature  herself  will  help  us  if  we  try  to 
amend  our  lives.  Nor  is  the  path  to  virtue  steep  and 
rough,  as  some  think  it  to  be:  it  may  be  reached  on 
level  ground.  This  is  no  untrue  tale  which  I  come  to 
tell  you :  the  road  to  happiness  is  easy ;  do  you  only 
enter  upon  it  with  good  luck  and  the  good  help  of  the 
gods  themselves.  It  is  much  harder  to  do  what  you  are 
doing.  What  is  more  restful  than  a  mind  at  peace,  and 
what  more  toilsome  than  anger  ?  What  is  more  at  leisure 
than  clemency,  what  fuller  of  business  than  cruelty  ? 
Modesty  keeps  holiday  while  vice  is  overwhelmed  with 
work.  In  fine,  the  culture  of  any  of  the  virtues  is  easy, 
while  vices  require  a  great  expense.  Anger  ought  to  be 
removed  from  our  minds :  even  those  who  say  that  it 
ought  to  be  kept  low  admit  this  to  some  extent :  let  it  be 
got  rid  of  altogether ;  there  is  nothing  to  be  gained  by  it. 
Without  it  we  can  more  easily  and  more  justly  put  an  end 


90  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IY. 

to  crime,  punish  bad  men,  and  amend  their  lives.  The 
wise  man  will  do  his  duty  in  all  things  without  the  help  of 
any  evil  passion,  and  will  use  no  auxiliaries  which  require 
watching  narrowly  lest  they  get  beyond  his  control. 

XIV.  Anger,  then,  must  never  become  a  habit  with  us, 
but  we  may  sometimes  affect  to  be  angry  when  we  wish  to 
rouse  up  the  dull  minds  of  those  whom  we  address,  just  as 
we  rouse  up  horses  who  are  slow  at  starting  with  goads 
and  firebrands.  We  must  sometimes  apply  fear  to  persons 
upon  whom  reason  makes  no  impression  :  yet  to  be  angry 
is  of  no  more  use  than  to  grieve  or  to  be  afraid.  "  What  ? 
do  not  circumstances  arise  which  provoke  us  to  anger?" 
Yes  :  but  at  those  times  above  all  others  we  ought  to  choke 
down  our  wrath.  Nor  is  it  difficult  to  conquer  our  spirit, 
seeing  that  athletes,  who  devote  their  whole  attention 
to  the  basest  parts  of  themselves,  nevertheless  are  able  to 
endure  blows  and  pain,  in  order  to  exhaust  the  strength  of 
the  striker,  and  do  not  strike  when  anger  bids  them,  but 
when  opportunity  invites  them.  It  is  said  that  Pyrrhns, 
the  most  celebrated  trainer  for  gymnastic  contests,  used 
habitually  to  impress  upon  his  pupils  not  to  lose  their 
tempers  :  for  anger  spoils  their  science,  and  thinks  only 
how  it  can  hurt :  so  that  often  reason  counsels  patience 
while  anger  counsels  revenge,  and  we,  who  might  have 
survived  our  first  misfortunes,  are  exposed  to  worse  ones. 
Some  have  been  driven  into  exile  by  their  impatience  of 
a  single  contemptuous  word,  have  been  plunged  into 
the  deepest  miseries  because  they  would  not  endure  the 
most  trifling  wrong  in  silence,  and  have  brought  upon 
themselves  the  yoke  of  slavery  because  they  were  too  proud 
to  give  up  the  least  part  of  their  entire  liberty. 

XV.  "  That  you  may  be  sure,"  says  our  opponent,  "  that 
anger  has  in  it  something  noble,  pray  look  at  the  free 
nations,  such  as  the  Germans  and  Scythians,  who  are 
especially  prone  to  anger."  The  reason  of  this  is  that  stout 


CH.  XVI.]  OF   ANGER.  91 

and  daring  intellects  are  liable  to  anger  before  tbey  are 
tamed  by  discipline;  for  some  passions  engraft  themselves 
upon  the  better  class  of  dispositions  only,  just  as  good  land, 
even  when  waste,  grows  strong  brushwood,  and  the  trees 
are  tall  which  stand  upon  a  fertile  soil.  In  like  manner, 
dispositions  which  are  naturally  bold  produce  irritability, 
and,  being  hot  and  fiery,  have  no  mean  or  trivial  qualities, 
but  their  energy  is  misdirected,  as  happens  with  all  those 
who  without  training  come  to  the  front  by  their  natural 
advantages  alone,  whose  minds,  unless  they  be  brought 
under  control,  degenerate  from  a  courageous  temper  into 
habits  of  rashness  and  reckless  daring.  "  What  ?  are  not 
milder  spirits  linked  with  gentler  vices,  such  as  tenderness 
of  heart,  love,  and  bashfulness  ?  "  Yes,  and  therefore  I  can 
often  point  out  to  you  a  good  disposition  by  its  own  faults  : 
yet  their  being  the  proofs  of  a  superior  nature  does  not  pre- 
vent their  being  vices.  Moreover,  all  those  nations  which 
are  free  because  they  are  wild,  like  lions  or  wolves,  cannot 
command  any  more  than  they  can  obey :  for  the  strength 
of  their  intellect  is  not  civilized,  but  fierce  and  unmanage- 
able :  now,  no  one  is  able  to  rule  unless  he  is  also  able  to 
be  ruled.  Consequently,  the  empire  of  the  world  has 
almost  always  remained  in  the  hands  of  those  nations 
who  enjoy  a  milder  climate.  Those  who  dwell  near  the 
frozen  north  have  uncivilized  tempers — 

"  Just  on  the  model  of  their  native  skies," 

as  the  poet  has  it. 

XVI.  Those  animals,  urges  our  opponent,  are  held  to  be 
the  most  generous  who  have  large  capacity  for  anger.  He 
is  mistaken  when  he  holds  up  creatures  who  act  from 
impulse  instead  of  reason  as  patterns  for  men  to  follow, 
because  in  man  reason  takes  the  place  of  impulse.  Yet 
even  with  animals,  all  do  not  alike  profit  by  the  same 
thing.    Anger  is  of  use  to  lions,  timidity  to  stags,  boldness 


92  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

to  hawks,  flight  to  doves.  What  if  I  declare  that  it  is  not 
even  true  that  the  best  animals  are  the  most  prone  to 
anger  ?  I  may  suppose  that  wild  beasts,  who  gain  their 
food  by  rapine,  are  better  the  angrier  they  are ;  bnt  I 
should  praise  oxen  and  horses  who  obey  the  rein  for  their 
patience.  What  reason,  however,  have  you  for  referring 
mankind  to  such  wretched  models,  when  you  have  the 
universe  and  Grod,  whom  he  alone  of  animals  imitates 
because  he  alone  comprehends  Him  ?  "  The  most  irritable 
men,"  says  he,  "are  thought  to  be  the  most  straightfor- 
ward of  all."  Yes,  because  they  are  compared  with  swindlers 
and  sharpers,  and  appear  to  be  simple  because  they  are  out- 
spoken. I  should  not  call  such  men  simple,  but  heedless. 
We  give  this  title  of  "  simple  "  to  all  fools,  gluttons, 
spendthrifts,  and  men  whose  vices  lie  on  the  surface. 

XVII.  "An  orator,"  says  our  opponent,  "sometimes 
speaks  better  when  he  is  angry."  Not  so,  but  when  he 
pretends  to  be  angry :  for  so  also  actors  bring  down  the 
house  by  their  playing,  not  when  they  are  really  angry, 
but  when  they  act  the  angry  man  well :  and  in  like 
manner,  in  addressing  a  jury  or  a  popular  assembly,  or  in 
any  other  position  in  which  the  minds  of  others  have  to  be 
influenced  at  our  pleasure,  we  must  ourselves  pretend  to 
feel  anger,  fear,  or  pity  before  we  can  make  others  feel 
them,  and  often  the  pretence  of  passion  will  do  what  the 
passion  itself  could  not  have  done.  "  The  mind  which 
does  not  feel  anger,"  says  he,  "  is  feeble."  True,  if  it  has 
nothing  stronger  than  anger  to  support  it.  A  man  ought 
to  be  neither  robber  nor  victim,  neither  tender-hearted  nor 
cruel.  The  former  belongs  to  an  over-weak  mind,  the 
latter  to  an  over-hard  one.  Let  the  wise  man  be  moderate, 
and  when  things  have  to  be  done  somewhat  briskly,  let 
him  call  force,  not  anger,  to  his  aid. 

XVIII.  Now  that  we  have  discussed  the  questions  pro- 
pounded concerning  anger,  let  us  pass  on  to  the  considera- 


CH.  XIX.]  OF   ANGER.  93; 

tion  of  its  remedies.  These,  I  imagine,  are  two-fold  :  th& 
one  class  preventing  our  becoming  angry,  the  other  pre-, 
venting  our  doing  wrong  when  we  are  angrj.  As  with  the 
body  we  adopt  a  certain  regimen  to  keep  ourselves  in 
health,  aud  use  different  rules  to  bring  back  health  when 
lost,  so  likewise  we  must  repel  anger  in  one  fashion  and 
quench  it  in  another.  That  we  may  avoid  it,  certain 
general  rules  of  conduct  which  apply  to  all  men's  lives 
must  be  impressed  upon  us.  We  may  divide  these  into  such 
as  are  of  use  during  the  education  of  the  young  and  in 
after-life. 

Education  ought  to  be  carried  on  with  the  greatest  and 
most  salutary  assiduity:  for  it  is  easy  to  mould  minds 
while  they  are  still  tender,  but  it  is  difficult  to  uproot  vices 
which  have  grown  up  with  ourselves. 

XIX.  A  hot  mind  is  naturally  the  most  prone  to  anger : 
for  as  there  are  four  elements,^  consisting  of  fire,  air^ 
earth,  and  water,  so  there  are  powers  corresponding  and 
equivalent  to  each  of  these,  namely,  hot,  cold,  dry,  and 
moist.  N'ow  the  mixture  of  the  elements  is  the  cause  of 
the  diversities  of  lands  and  of  animals,  of  bodies  and  of 
character,  and  our  dispositions  incline  to  one  or  the  other 
of  these  according  as  the  strength  of  each  element  prevails, 
in  us.  Hence  it  is  that  we  call  some  regions  wet  or  dry, 
warm  or  cold.  The  same  distinctions  apply  likewise  to. 
animals  and  mankind;  it  makes  a  great  difference  how 
much  moisture  or  heat  a  man  contains ;  his  character  will 
partake  of  whichever  element  has  the  largest  share  in  him.. 
A  warm  temper  of  mind  will  make  men  prone  to  anger ;. 
for  fire  is  full  of   movement  and    vigour;   a  mixture  of 

^  Compare  Shakespeare,  "  Julius  Caesar,"  Act  v.  Sc.  5 : — 
"  His  life  was  gentle,  and  the  elements 
So  mixed  in  him,  that  nature  might  stand  up 
And  say  to  all  the  world,  this  was  a  man!" 
See  Mr.  Aldis  Wright's  note  upon  the  passage. 


94  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

coldness  makes  men  cowards,  for  cold  is  sluggish  and 
contracted.  Because  of  this,  some  of  our  Stoics  think 
that  anger  is  excited  in  our  breasts  by  the  boiling  of  the 
blood  round  the  heart :  indeed,  that  place  is  assigned  to 
anger  for  no  other  reason  than  because  the  breast  is  the 
warmest  part  of  the  whole  body.  Those  who  have  more 
moisture  in  them  become  angry  by  slow  degrees,  because 
they  have  no  heat  ready  at  hand,  but  it  has  to  be  obtained 
by  movement ;  wherefore  the  anger  of  women  and  children 
is  sharp  rather  than  strong,  and  arises  on  lighter  provoca- 
tion. At  dry  times  of  life  anger  is  violent  and  powerful, 
yet  without  increase,  and  adding  little  to  itself,  because  as 
heat  dies  away  cold  takes  its  place.  Old  men  are  testy 
and  full  of  complaints,  as  also  are  sick  people  and  con- 
valescents, and  all  whose  store  of  heat  has  been  con- 
sumed by  weariness  or  loss  of  blood.  Those  who  are 
wasted  by  thirst  or  hunger  are  in  the  same  condition,  as 
also  are  those  whose  frame  is  naturally  bloodless  and  faints 
from  want  of  generous  diet.  Wine  kindles  anger,  because 
it  increases  heat ;  according  to  each  man's  disposition, 
some  fly  into  a  passion  when  they  are  heavily  drunk,  some 
when  they  are  slightly  drunk  :  nor  is  there  any  other  reason 
than  this  why  yellow-haired,  ruddy-complexioned  people 
should  be  excessively  passionate,  seeing  that  they  are 
naturally  of  the  colour  which  others  put  on  during  anger ; 
for  their  blood  is  hot  and  easily  set  in  motion. 

XX.  But  just  as  nature  makes  some  men  prone  to 
anger,  so  there  are  many  other  causes  which  have  the  same 
power  as  nature.  Some  are  brought  into  this  condition  by 
disease  or  bodily  injury,  others  by  hard  work,  long  watch- 
ing, nights  of  anxiety,  ardent  longings,  and  love  :  and  every- 
thing else  which  is  hurtful  to  the  body  or  the  spirit  inclines 
the  distempered  mind  to  find  fault.  All  these,  however,  are 
but  the  beginning  and  causes  of  anger.  Habit  of  mind 
has  very  great  power,  and,  if  it  be  harsh,  increases  the 


CH.  XXI.]  OF    ANGER.  95 

disorder.  As  for  nature,  it  is  difficult  to  alter  it,  nor  may 
we  change  the  mixture  of  the  elements  which  was  formed 
once  for  all  at  our  birth :  yet  knowledge  will  be  so 
far  of  service,  that  we  should  keep  wine  out  of  the 
reach  of  hot-tempered  men,  which  Plato  thinks  ought 
also  to  be  forbidden  to  boys,  so  that  fire  be  not  made 
fiercer.  Neither  should  such  men  be  over-fed :  for  if 
so,  their  bodies  will  swell,  and  their  minds  will  swell 
with  them.  Such  men  ought  to  take  exercise,  stopping 
short,  however,  of  fatigue,  in  order  that  their  natural  heat 
may  be  abated,  but  not  exhausted,  and  their  excess  of  fiery 
spirit  may  be  worked  off.  Games  also  will  be  useful :  for 
moderate  pleasure  relieves  the  mind  and  brings  it  to  a 
proper  balance.  With  those  temperaments  which  incline 
to  moisture,  or  dryness  and  stiffness,  there  is  no  danger  of 
anger,  but  there  is  fear  of  greater  vices,  such  as  cowardice, 
moroseness,  despair,  and  suspiciousness:  such  dispositions 
therefore  ought  to  be  softened,  comforted,  and  restored  to 
cheerfulness :  and  since  we  must  make  use  of  different 
remedies  for  anger  and  for  sullenness,  and  these  two  vices 
require  not  only  unlike,  but  absolutely  opposite  modes  of 
treatment,  let  us  always  attack  that  one  of  them  which  is 
gaining  the  mastery. 

XXI.  It  is,  I  assure  you,  of  the  greatest  service  to  boys 
that  they  should  be  soundly  brought  up,  yet  to  regulate 
their  education  is  difficult,  because  it  is  our  duty  to  be 
careful  neither  to  cherish  a  habit  of  anger  in  them,  nor  to 
blunt  the  edge  of  their  spirit.  This  needs  careful  watching, 
for  both  qualities,  both  those  which  are  to  be  encouraged, 
and  those  which  are  to  be  checked,  are  fed  by  the  same 
things ;  and  even  a  careful  watcher  may  be  deceived  by 
their  likeness.  A  boy's  spirit  is  increased  by  freedom  and 
depressed  by  slavery  :  it  rises  when  praised,  and  is  led  to 
conceive  great  expectations  of  itself :  yet  this  same  treatment 
produces  arrogance   and  quickness  of  temper :  we  must 


96  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

therefore  guide  him  between  these  two  extremes,  using  the 
curb  at  one  time  and  the  spur  at  another.  He  must  undergo 
no  servile  or  degrading  treatment ;  he  never  must  beg 
abjectly  for  anything,  nor  must  he  gain  anything  by 
begging  ;  let  him  rather  receive  it  for  his  own  sake,  for  his 
past  good  behaviour,  or  for  his  promises  of  future  good 
conduct.  In  contests  with  his  comrades  we  ought  not  to 
allow  him  to  become  sulky  or  fly  into  a  passion :  let  us 
see  that  he  be  on  friendly  terms  with  those  whom  he  con- 
tends with,  so  that  in  the  struggle  itself  he  may  learn  to 
wish  not  to  hurt  his  antagonist  but  to  couquer  him  :  when- 
ever he  has  gained  the  day  or  done  something  praiseworthy, 
we  should  allow  him  to  enjoy  his  victory,  but  not  to  rush 
into  transports  of  delight :  for  joy  leads  to  exultation,  and 
exultation  leads  to  swaggering  and  excessive  self-esteem. 
We  ought  to  allow  him  some  relaxation,  yet  not  yield  him  up 
to  laziness  and  sloth,  and  we  ought  to  keep  him  far  beyond 
the  reach  of  luxury,  for  nothing  makes  children  more  prone 
to  anger  than  a  soft  and  fond  bringing-up,  so  that  the  more 
only  children  are  indulged,  and  the  more  liberty  is  given  to 
orphans,  the  more  they  are  corrupted.  He  to  whom  nothing 
is  ever  denied,  will  not  be  able  to  endure  a  rebuff,  whose 
anxious  mother  always  wipes  away  his  tears,  whose  paeda- 
gogus^  is  made  to  pay  for  his  shortcomings.  Do  you  not 
observe  how  a  man's  anger  becomes  more  violent  as  he 
rises  in  station?  This  shows  itself  especially  in  those  who  are 
rich  and  noble,  or  in  great  place,  when  the  favouring  gale 
has  roused  all  the  most  empty  and  trivial  passions  of  their 
minds.  Prosperity  fosters  anger,  when  a  man's  proud  ears 
are  surrounded  by  a  mob  of  flatterers,  saying,  "  That  man 
answer  you  !  you  do  not  act  according  to  your  dignity,  you 
lower  yourself."  And  so  forth,  with  all  the  language  which 
can  hardly  be  resisted  even  by  healthy  and  originally  well- 

^  Paedagogus  was  a  slave  who  accompanied  a  boy  to  school,  &c.,  to 
keep  him  out  of  mischief;  he  did  not  teach  him  anything. 


OH.  XXII.]  OF   ANGER.  97 

principled  minds.  Flattery,  then,  must  be  kept  well  out 
of  the  way  of  children.  Let  a  child  hear  the  truth,  and 
sometimes  fear  it :  let  him  always  reverence  it.  Let  him  rise 
in  the  presence  of  his  elders.  Let  him  obtain  nothing  by  fly- 
ing into  a  passion  :  let  him  be  given  when  he  is  quiet  what 
was  refused  him  when  he  cried  for  it :  let  him  behold,  but  not 
make  use  of  his  father's  wealth :  let  him  be  reproved  for 
what  he  does  wrong.  It  will  be  advantageous  to  furnish 
boys  with  even-tempered  teachers  and  paedagogi :  what 
is  soft  and  unformed  clings  to  what  is  near,  and  takes 
its  shape  :  the  habits  of  young  men  reproduce  those  of  their 
nurses  and  jpaedagogi.  Once,  a  boy  who  was  brought  up  in 
Plato's  house  went  home  to  his  parents,  and,  on  seeing  his 
father  shouting  with  passion,  said,  "I  never  saw  any  one 
at  Plato's  house  act  like  that."  I  doubt  not  that  he  learned 
to  imitate  his  father  sooner  than  he  learned  to  imitate  Plato. 
Above  all,  let  his  food  be  scanty,  his  dress  not  costly,  and 
of  the  same  fashion  as  that  of  his  comrades :  if  you  begin 
by  putting  him  on  a  level  with  many  others,  he  will  not  be 
angry  when  some  one  is  compared  with  him. 

XXII.  These  precepts,  however,  apply  to  our  children : 
in  ourselves  the  accident  of  birth  and  our  education  no 
longer  admits  of  either  mistakes  or  advice  ;  we  must  deal 
with  what  follows.  Now  we  ought  to  fight  against  the 
first  causes  of  evil :  the  caase  of  anger  is  the  belief  that  we 
are  injured ;  this  belief,  therefore,  should  not  be  lightly 
entertained.  We  ought  not  to  fly  into  a  rage  even  when 
the  injury  appears  to  be  open  and  distinct :  for  some  false 
things  bear  the  semblance  of  truth.  We  should  always 
allow  some  time  to  elapse,  for  time  discloses  the  truth. 
Let  not  our  ears  be  easily  lent  to  calumnious  talk :  let  us 
know  and  be  on  our  guard  against  this  fault  of  human 
nature,  that  we  are  willing  to  believe  what  we  are  unwilling 
to  listen  to,  and  that  we  become  angry  before  we  have 
formed  our  opinion.     What  shall  I  say  ?  we  are  influenced 

H 


98  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

not  merely  by  calumnies  but  by  suspicions,  and  at  the  very 
look  and  smile  of  others  we  may  fly  into  a  rage  with  inno- 
cent persons  because  we  put  the  worst  construction 
upon  it.  We  ought,  therefore,  to  plead  the  cause  of  the 
absent  against  ourselves,  and  to  keep  our  anger  in  abey- 
ance :  for  a  punishment  which  has  been  postponed  may 
yet  be  inflicted,  but  when  once  inflicted  cannot  be  recalled. 
XXIII.  Every  one  knows  the  story  of  the  tyrannicide 
who,  being  caught  before  he  had  accomplished  his  task,  and 
being  tortured  by  Hippias  to  make  him  betray  his  accom- 
plices, named  the  friends  of  the  tyrant  who  stood  around, 
and  every  one  to  whom  he  knew  the  tyrant's  safety  was 
especially  dear.  As  the  tyrant  ordered  each  man  to  be 
slain  as  he  was  named,  at  last  the  man,  being  asked  if  any 
one  else  remained,  said,  "  You  remain  alone,  for  I  have  left 
no  one  else  alive  to  whom  you  are  dear."  Anger  had  made 
the  tyrant  lend  his  assistance  to  the  tyrant- slayer,  and  cut 
down  his  guards  with  his  own  sword.  How  far  more 
spirited  was  Alexander,  who  after  reading  his  mother's 
letter  warm'ng  him  to  beware  of  poison  from  his  physician 
Philip,  nevertheless  drank  undismayed  the  medicine 
which  Philip  gave  him  !  He  felt  more  confidence  in 
his  friend  :  he  deserved  that  his  friend  should  be  inno- 
cent, and  deserved  that  his  conduct  should  make  him  inno- 
cent. I  praise  Alexander's  doing  this  all  the  more  because 
he  was  above  all  men  prone  to  anger ;  but  the  rarer 
moderation  is  among  kings,  the  more  it  deserves  to  be 
praised.  The  great  Gains  Caesar,  who  proved  such  a 
merciful  conqueror  in  the  civil  war,  did  the  same  thing ; 
he  burned  a  packet  of  letters  addressed  to  Gnaeus  Pom- 
peius  by  persons  who  had  been  thought  to  be  either 
neutrals  or  on  the  other  side.  Though  he  was  never  violent 
in  his  anger,  yet  he  preferred  to  put  it  out  of  his  power  to 
be  angry :  he  thought  that  the  kindest  way  to  pardon  each 
of  them  was  not  to  know  what  his  offence  had  been. 


CH.  XXY.]  OF   ANGER.  99 

XXIY,  Readiness  to  believe  what  we  hear  causes  very- 
great  mischief ;  we  ought  often  not  even  to  listen,  because 
in  some  cases  it  is  better  to  be  deceived  than  to  suspect 
deceit.  We  ought  to  free  our  minds  of  suspicion  and  mis- 
trust, those  most  untrustworthy  causes  of  anger.  *'  This 
man's  greeting  was  far  from  civil ;  that  one  would  not 
receive  my  kiss ;  one  cut  short  a  story  I  had  begun  to  tell ; 
another  did  not  ask  me  to  dinner ;  another  seemed  to  view 
me  with  aversion."  Suspicion  will  never  lack  grounds  : 
what  we  want  is  straightforwardness,  and  a  kindly  inter- 
pretation of  things.  Let  ns  believe  nothing  unless  it  forces 
itself  upon  our  sight  and  is  unmistakable,  and  let  us 
reprove  ourselves  for  being  too  ready  to  believe,  as  often 
as  our  suspicions  prove  to  be  groundless  :  for  this  dis- 
cipline will  render  us  habitually  slow  to  believe  what  we 
hear. 

XXY.  Another  consequence  of  this  will  be,  that  we 
shall  not  be  exasperated  by  the  slightest  and  most  con- 
temptible trifles.  It  is  mere  madness  to  be  put  out  of 
temper  because  a  slave  is  not  quick,  because  the  water  we 
are  going  to  drink  is  lukewarm,  or  because  our  couch  is 
disarranged  or  our  table  carelessly  laid.  A  man  must  be 
in  a  miserably  bad  state  of  health  if  he  shrinks  from  a 
gentle  breath  of  wind ;  his  eyes  must  be  diseased  if  they  are 
distressed  by  the  sight  of  white  clothing;  he  must  be 
broken  down  with  debauchery  if  he  feels  pain  at  seeing 
another  man  work.  It  is  said  that  there  was  one  Mindy- 
rides,  a  citizen  of  Sybaris,  who  one  day  seeing  a  man 
digging  and  vigorously  brandishing  a  mattock,  complained 
that  the  sight  made  him  weary,  and  forbade  the  man  to 
work  where  he  could  see  him.  The  same  man  complained 
that  he  had  suffered  from  the  rose-leaves  upon  which  he 
lay  being  folded  double.  When  pleasures  have  corrupted 
both  the  body  and  the  mind,  nothing  seems  endurable,  not 
indeed  because  it  is  hard,  but  because  he  who  has  to  bear  it 


100  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [BK.  IV. 

is  soft :  for  why  should  we  be  driven  to  frenzy  by  any  one's 
coughing  and  sneezing,  or  by  a  fly  not  being  driven  away 
with  sufficient  care,  or  by  a  dog's  hanging  about  us,  or  a 
key  dropping  from  a  careless  servant's  hand  ?  Will  one 
whose  ears  are  agonised  by  the  noise  of  a  bench  being 
dragged  along  the  floor  be  able  to  endure  with  unruffled 
mind  the  rude  language  of  party  strife,  and  the  abuse 
which  speakers  in  the  forum  or  the  senate  house  heap  upon 
their  opponents  ?  Will  he  who  is  angry  with  his  slave  for 
icing  his  drink  badly,  be  able  to  endure  hunger,  or  the 
thirst  of  a  long  march  in  summer  ?  Nothing,  therefore, 
nourishes  anger  more  than  excessive  and  dissatisfied  luxury : 
the  mind  ought  to  be  hardened  by  rough  treatment,  so  as 
not  to  feel  any  blow  that  is  not  severe. 

XXVI.  We  are  angry,  either  with  those  who  can,  or 
with  those  who  cannot  do  us  an  injury.  To  the  latter  class 
belong  some  inanimate  things,  such  as  a  book,  which  we 
often  throw  away  when  it  is  written  in  letters  too  small  for 
us  to  read,  or  tear  up  when  it  is  full  of  mistakes,  or  clothes 
which  we  destroy  because  we  do  not  like  them.  How 
foolish  to  be  angry  with  such  things  as  these,  which  neither 
deserve  nor  feel  our  anger  !  "  But  of  course  it  is  their 
makers  who  really  affront  us."  I  answer  that,  in  the  first 
place,  we  often  become  angry  before  making  this  distinc- 
tion clear  in  our  minds,  and  secondly,  perhaps  even  the 
makers  might  put  forward  some  reasonable  excuses :  one 
of  them,  it  may  be,  could  not  make  them  any  better  than 
he  did,  and  it  is  not  through  any  disrespect  to  you  that  he 
was  unskilled  in  his  trade :  another  may  have  done  his 
work  so  without  any  intention  of  insulting  you :  and,  finally, 
what  can  be  more  crazy  than  to  discharge  upon  things  the 
ill-feeling  which  one  has  accumulated  against  persons  ?  Yet 
as  it  is  the  act  of  a  madman  to  be  angry  with  inanimate 
objects,  so  also  is  it  to  be  angry  with  dumb  animals,  which 
can  do  us  no  wrong  because  they  are  not  able  to  form  a 


CH.  XXYII.]  OP   ANGER.  101 

purpose ;  and  we  cannot  call  anything  a  wrong  unless  it  be 
done  intentionally.  They  are,  therefore,  able  to  hurt  us, 
just  as  a  sword  or  a  stone  may  do  so,  but  they  are  not  able 
to  do  us  a  wrong.  Yet  some  men  think  themselves  insulted 
when  the  same  horses  which  are  docile  with  one  rider  are 
restive  with  another,  as  though  it  were  through  their 
deliberate  choice,  and  not  through  habit  and  cleverness  of 
handling  that  some  horses  are  more  easily  managed  bji 
some  men  than  by  others.  And  as  it  is  foolish  to  be  angry 
with  them,  so  it  is  to  be  angry  with  children,  and  with 
men  who  have  little  more  sense  than  children :  for  all 
these  sins,  before  a  just  judge,  ignorance  would  be  as 
effective  an  excuse  as  innocence. 

XXVII.  There  are  some  things  which  are  unable  to 
hurt  us,  and  whose  power  is  exclusively  beneficial  and 
salutary,  as,  for  example,  the  immortal  gods,  who  neither 
wish  nor  are  able  to  do  harm  :  for  their  temperament  is 
naturally  gentle  and  tranquil,  and  no  more  likely  to  wrong 
others  than  to  wrong  themselves.  Foolish  people  who  know 
not  the  truth  hold  them  answerable  for  storms  at  sea, 
excessive  rain,  and  long  winters,  whereas  all  the  while 
these  phenomena  by  which  we  suffer  or  profit  take  place 
without  any  reference  whatever  to  us  :  it  is  not  for  our 
sake  that  the  universe  causes  summer  and  winter  to 
succeed  one  another ;  these  have  a  law  of  their  own, 
according  to  which  their  divine  functions  are  performed. 
We  think  too  much  of  ourselves,  when  we  imagine  that  we 
are  worthy  to  have  such  prodigious  revolutions  effected 
for  our  sake  :  so,  then,  none  of  these  things  take  place  in 
order  to  do  us  an  injury,  nay,  on  the  contrary,  they  all  tend 
to  our  benefit.  I  have  said  that  there  are  some  things 
which  cannot  hurt  us,  and  some  which  would  not.  To 
the  latter  class  belong  good  men  in  authority,  good 
parents,  teachers,  and  judges,  whose  punishments  ought 
to  be  submitted  to  by  us  in  the  same  spirit  in  which  we 


102  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

undergo  the  surgeon's  knife,  abstinence  from  food,  and 
such  like  things  which  hurt  us  for  our  benefit.  Suppose 
that  we  are  being  punished  ;  let  us  think  not  only  of  what 
we  suffer,  but  of  what  we  have  done  :  let  us  sit  in  judgement 
on  our  past  life.  Provided  we  are  willing  to  tell  ourselves 
the  truth,  we  shall  certainly  decide  that  our  crimes  deserve 
a  harder  measure  than  they  have  received. 

XXVIII.  If  we  desire  to  be  impartial  judges  of  all  that 
takes  place,  we  must  first  convince  ourselves  of  this,  that 
no  one  of  us  is  faultless  :  for  it  is  from  this  that  most  of 
our  indignation  proceeds.  "I  have  not  sinned,  I  have 
done  no  wrong."  Say,  rather,  you  do  not  admit  that  you 
have  done  any  wrong.  We  are  infuriated  at  being  reproved, 
either  by  reprimand  or  actual  chastisement,  although  we 
are  sinning  at  that  very  time,  by  adding  insolence  and 
obstinacy  to  our  wrong-doings.  Who  is  there  that  can 
declare  himself  to  have  broken  no  laws  ?  Even  if  there  be 
such  a  man,  what  a  stinted  innocence  it  is,  merely  to  be  in- 
nocent by  the  letter  of  the  law.  How  much  further  do  the 
rules  of  duty  extend  than  those  of  the  law  !  how  many 
things  which  are  not  to  be  found  in  the  statute  book,  are 
demanded  by  filial  feeling,  kindness,  generosity,  equity, 
and  honour  ?  Yet  we  are  not  able  to  warrant  ourselves  even 
to  come  under  that  first  narrowest  definition  of  innocence  : 
we  have  done  what  was  wrong,  thought  what  was  wrong, 
wished  for  what  was  wrong,  and  encouraged  what  was 
wrong :  in  some  cases  we  have  only  remained  innocent 
because  we  did  not  succeed.  When  we  think  of  this,  let 
us  deal  more  jnstly  with  sinners,  and  believe  that  those  who 
scold  us  are  right :  in  any  case  let  us  not  be  angry  with 
ourselves  (for  with  whom  shall  we  not  be  angry,  if  we  are 
angry  even  with  our  own  selves  ?) ,  and  least  of  all  with  the 
gods :  for  whatever  we  suffer  befalls  us  not  by  any  ordinance 
of  theirs  but  of  the  common  law  of  all  flesh.  "  But  diseases 
and  pains  attack  us."     Well,  people  who  live  in  a  crazy 


CH.  XXVIII.]  OF   ANGER.  103 

dwelling  must  have  some  way  of  escape  from  it.  Some 
one  will  be  said  to  have  spoken  ill  of  you :  think 
whether  you  did  not  first  speak  ill  of  him :  think  of  how 
many  persons  you  have  yourself  spoken  ill.  Let  us  not,  I 
say,  suppose  that  others  are  doing  us  a  wrong,  but  are  re- 
paying one  which  we  have  done  them,  that  some  are  acting 
with  good  intentions,  some  under  compulsion,  some  in 
ignorance,  and  lejt  ns  believe  that  even  he  who  does  so  inten- 
tionally and  knowingly  did  not  wrong  us  merely  for  the 
sake  of  wronging  us,  but  was  led  into  doing  so  by  the 
attraction  of  saying  something  witty,  or  did  whatever  he 
did,  not  out  of  any  spite  against  us,  but  because  he  himself 
could  not  succeed  unless  he  pushed  us  back.  We  are 
often  offended  by  flattery  even  while  it  is  being  lavished 
upon  us  :  yet  whoever  recalls  to  his  mind  how  often  he 
himself  has  been  the  victim  of  undeserved  suspicion,  how 
often  fortune  has  given  his  true  service  an  appearance  of 
wrong-doing,  how  many  persons  he  has  begun  by  hating 
and  ended  by  loving,  will  be  able  to  keep  himself  from 
becoming  angry  straightway,  especially  if  he  silently  says 
to  himself  when  each  offence  is  committed  :  "I  have  done 
this  very  thing  myself."  Where,  however,  will  you  find  so 
impartial  a  judge  ?  The  same  man  who  lusts  after  every- 
one's wife,  and  thinks  that  a  woman's  belonging  to  some- 
one else  is  a  sufficient  reason  for  adoring  her,  will  not  allow 
any  one  else  to  look  at  his  own  wife.  No  man  expects  such 
exact  fidelity  as  a  traitor :  the  perjurer  himself  takes  ven- 
geance of  him  who  breaks  his  word  :  the  pettifogging  lawyer 
is  most  indignant  at  an  action  being  brought  against  him : 
the  man  who  is  reckless  of  his  own  chastity  cannot  endure 
any  attempt  upon  that  of  his  slaves.  We  have  other  men's 
vices  before  our  eyes,  and  our  own  behind  our  backs  :  hence 
it  is  that  a  father,  who  is  worse  than  his  son,  blames  the 
latter  for  giving  extravagant  feasts,^  and  disapproves  of 
^  Tempesttva,  beginning  before  the  usual  hour. 


104  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

the  least  sign  of  luxury  in  another,  although  he  was  wont 
to  set  no  bounds  to  it  in  his  own  case  ;  hence  it  is  that 
despots  are  angry  with  homicides,  and  thefts  are  punished 
by  those  who  despoil  temples.  A  great  part  of  mankind 
is  not  angry  with  sins,  but  with  sinners.  Regard  to  our 
own  selves  ^  will  make  us  more  moderate,  if  we  inquire  of 
ourselves  : — have  we  ever  committed  any  crime  of  this  sort  ? 
have  we  ever  fallen  into  this  kind  of  error  ?  is  it  for  our 
interest  that  we  should  condemn  this  conduct  ? 

XXIX.  The  greatest  remedy  for  anger  is  delay ;  beg 
anger  to  grant  you  this  at  the  first,  not  in  order  that  it  may 
pardon  the  offence,  but  that  it  may  form  a  right  judgment 
about  it :  if  it  delays,  it  will  come  to  an  end.  Do  not 
attempt  to  quell  it  all  at  once,  for  its  first  impulses  are 
fierce ;  by  plucking  away  its  parts  we  shall  remove  the 
whole.  We  are  made  angry  by  some  things  which  we 
learn  at  second-hand,  and  by  some  which  we  ourselves 
hear  or  see.  Now,  we  ought  to  be  slow  to  believe  what 
is  told  us.  Many  tell  lies  in  order  to  deceive  us,  and 
many  because  they  are  themselves  deceived.  Some  seek 
to  win  our  favour  by  false  accusations,  and  invent  wrongs 
in  order  that  they  may  appear  angry  at  our  having 
suffered  them.  One  man  lies  out  of  spite,  that  he  may  set 
trusting  friends  at  variance ;  some  because  they  are  sus- 
picious,^ and  wish  to  see  sport,  and  watch  from  a  safe  dis- 
tance those  whom  they  have  set  by  the  ears.  If  you  were 
about  to  give  sentence  in  court  about  ever  so  small  a  sum 
of  money,  you  would  take  nothing  as  proved  without  a  wit- 
ness, and  a  witness  would  count  for  nothing  except  on  his 
oath.  You  would  allow  both  sides  to  be  heard  :  you  would 
allow  them  time:  you  would  not  despatch  the  matter  at  one 
sitting,  because  the  oftener  it  is  handled  the  more  distinctly 
the  truth  appears.     And  do  you  condemn  your  friend  off- 

^  Fear  of  self-condemnation. 

^  Lipsius  conjectures  supprocax,  mischievous. 


CH.  XXX.]  OP  ANGER.  105 

hand  ?  Are  yon  angry  with  him  before  you  hear  his  story, 
before  you  have  cross-examined  him,  before  he  can  know- 
either  who  is  his  accuser  or  with  what  he  is  charged.  Why 
then,  just  now,  in  the  case  which  you  just  tried,  did  you 
hear  what  was  said  on  both  sides  ?  This  very  man  who  has 
informed  against  your  friend,  will  say  no  more  if  he  be 
obliged  to  prove  what  he  says.  "You  need  not,"  says  he, 
"  bring  me  forward  as  a  witness  ;  if  I  am  brought  forward 
I  shall  deny  what  I  have  said  ;  unless  you  excuse  me  from 
appearing  I  shall  never  tell  you  anything."  At  the  same 
time  he  spurs  you  on  and  withdraws  himself  from  the  strife 
and  battle.  The  man  who  will  tell  you  nothing  save  in 
secret  hardly  tells  you  anything  at  all.  What  can  be  more 
unjust  than  to  believe  in  secret,  and  to  be  angry  openly  ? 

XXX.  Some  offences  we  ourselves  witness :  in  these  cases 
let  us  examine  the  disposition  and  purpose  of  the  offender. 
Perhaps  he  is  a  child  ;  let  us  pardon  his  youth,  he  knows 
not  whether  he  is  doing  wrong  :  or  he  is  a  father ;  he  has 
either  rendered  such  great  services,  as  to  have  won  the 
right  even  to  wrong  us — or  perhaps  this  very  act  which 
offends  us  is  his  chief  merit :  or  a  woman ;  well,  she 
made  a  mistake.  The  man  did  it  because  he  was  ordered 
to  do  it.  Who  but  an  unjust  person  can  be  angry  with 
what  is  done  under  compulsion  ?  You  had  hurt  him  :  well, 
there  is  no  wrong  in  suffering  the  pain  which  you  have  been 
the  first  to  inflict.  Suppose  that  your  opponent  is  a  judge ; 
then  you  ought  to  take  his  opinion  rather  than  your  own  : 
or  that  he  is  a  king ;  then,  if  he  punishes  the  guilty,  yield 
to  him  because  he  is  just,  and  if  he  punishes  the  innocent, 
yield  to  him  because  he  is  powerful.  Suppose  that  it  is  a 
dumb  animal  or  as  stupid  as  a  dumb  animal :  then,  if  you 
are  angry  with  it,  you  will  make  yourself  like  it.  Sup- 
pose that  it  is  a  disease  or  a  misfortune  ;  it  will  take  less 
effect  upon  you  if  you  bear  it  quietly  :  or  that  it  is  a  god ; 
then  you  waste  your  time  by  being  angry  with  him  as  much 


106  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

as  if  you  prayed  him  to  be  angry  with  some  one  else.  Is  it 
a  good  man  who  has  wronged  you  ?  do  not  believe  it:  is  it  a 
bad  one  ?  do  not  be  surprised  at  this  ;  he  will  pay  to  some 
one  else  the  penalty  which  he  owes  to  you — indeed,  by  his 
sin  he  has  already  punished  himself. 

XXXI.  There  are,  as  I  have  stated,  two  cases  which 
produce  anger :  first,  when  we  appear  to  have  received  an 
injury,  about  which  enough  has  been  said,  and,  secondly, 
when  we  appear  to  have  been  treated  unjustly  :  this  must 
now  be  discussed.  Men  think  some  things  unjust  because 
they  ought  not  to  suffer  them,  and  some  because  they  did  not 
expect  to  suffer  them  :  we  think  what  is  unexpected  is  be- 
neath our  deserts.  Consequently,  we  are  especially  excited 
at  what  befalls  us  contrary  to  our  hope  and  expectation :  and 
this  is  why  we  are  irritated  at  the  smallest  trifles  in  our  own 
domestic  affairs,  and  why  we  call  our  friends'  carelessness 
deliberate  injury.  How  is  it,  then,  asks  our  opponent,  that 
we  are  angered  by  the  injuries  inflicted  by  our  enemies  ?  It 
is  because  we  did  not  expect  those  particular  injuries,  or,  at 
any  rate,  not  on  so  extensive  a  scale.  This  is  caused  by  our 
excessive  self-love :  we  think  that  we  ought  to  remain  unin- 
jured even  by  our  enemies  :  every  man  bears  within  his  breast 
the  mind  of  a  despot,  and  is  willing  to  commit  excesses, 
but  unwilling  to  submit  to  them.  Thus  it  is  either  ignorance 
or  arrogance  that  makes  us  angry :  ignorance  of  common 
facts ;  for  what  is  there  to  wonder  at  in  bad  men  committing 
evil  deeds  ?  what  novelty  is  there  in  your  enemy  hurting  you, 
your  friend  quarrelling  with  you,  your  son  going  wrong,  or 
your  servant  doing  amiss  ?  Fabius  was  wont  to  say  that 
the  most  shameful  excuse  a  general  could  make  was  "  I  did 
not  think."  I  think  it  the  most  shameful  excuse  that  a  man 
can  make.  Think  of  everything,  expect  everything  :  even 
with  men  of  good  character  something  queer  will  crop  up : 
human  nature  produces  minds  that  are  treacherous,  ungrate- 
ful, greedy,  and  impious :  when  you  are  considering  what  any 


CH.  XXXI.]  OF   ANGEE.  107 

man's  morals  may  be,  think  what  those  of  mankind  are. 
When  you  are  especially  enjoying  yourself,  be  especially  on 
your  guard  :  when  everything  seems  to  you  to  be  peaceful, 
be  sure  that  mischief  is  not  absent,  but  only  asleep.  Always 
believe  that  something  will  occur  to  offend  you.  A  pilot 
never  spreads  all  his  canvas  abroad  so  confidently  as  not  to 
keep  his  tackle  for  shortening  sail  ready  for  use.  Think, 
above  all,  how  base  and  hateful  is  the  power  of  doing  mis- 
chief, and  how  unnatural  in  man,  by  whose  kindness  even 
fierce  animals  are  rendered  tame.  See  how  bulls  yield  their 
necks  to  the  yoke,  how  elephants  ^  allow  boys  and  women 
to  dance  on  their  backs  unhurt,  how  snakes  glide  harmlessly 
over  our  bosoms  and  among  our  drinking- cups,  how  within 
their  dens  bears  and  lions  submit  to  be  handled  with  com- 
placent mouths,  and  wild  beasts  fawn  upon  their  master  :  let 
us  blush  to  have  exchanged  habits  with  wild  beasts.  It  is  a 
crime  to  injure  one's  country :  so  it  is,  therefore,  to  injure  any 
of  our  countrymen,  for  he  is  a  part  of  our  country ;  if  the 
whole  be  sacred,  the  parts  must  be  sacred  too.  Therefore  it 
is  also  a  crime  to  injure  any  man :  for  he  is  your  fellow- 
citizen  in  a  larger  state.  What,  if  the  hands  were  to  wish  to 
hurt  the  feet  ?  or  the  eyes  to  hurt  the  hands  ?  As  all  the 
limbs  act  in  unison,  because  it  is  the  interest  of  the  whole 
body  to  keep  each  one  of  them  safe,  so  men  should  spare  one 
another,  because  they  are  born  for  society.  The  bond  of 
society,  however,  cannot  exist  unless  it  guards  and  loves  all 
its  members.  We  should  not  even  destroy  vipers  and  water- 
snakes  and  other  creatures  whose  teeth  and  claws  are  dan- 
gerous, if  we  were  able  to  tame  them  as  we  do  other  animals, 
or  to  prevent  their  being  a  peril  to  us  :  neither  ought  we, 
therefore,  to  hurt  a  man  because  he  has  done  wrong,  but  lest 
he  should  do  wrong,  and  our  punishment  should  always 
look  to  the  future,  and  never  to  the  past,  because  it  is  in- 
,  flicted  in  a  spirit  of  precaution,  not  of  anger :  for  if  every- 
K  *  I  have  adopted  the  transposition  of  Haase  and  Koch. 


108  MINOS   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

one  who  has  a  crooked  and  vicious  disposition  were  to  be 
punished,  no  one  would  escape  punishment. 

XXXII.  "  But  anger  possesses  a  certain  pleasure  of  its 
own,  and  it  is  sweet  to  pay  back  the  pain  you  have  suffered.'^ 
Not  at  all;  it  is  not  honourable  to  requite  injuries  by 
injuries,  in  the  same  way  as  it  is  to  repay  benefits  by 
benefits.  In  the  latter  case  it  is  a  shame  to  be  conquered ; 
in  the  former  it  is  a  shame  to  conquer.  Revenge  and 
retaliation  are  words  which  men  use  and  even  think  to  be 
righteous,  yet  they  do  not  greatly  differ  from  wrong-doing, 
except  in  the  order  in  which  they  are  done :  he  who 
renders  pain  for  pain  has  more  excuse  for  his  sin  ;  that  is  all. 
Some  one  who  did  not  know  Marcus  Cato  struck  him  in  the 
public  bath  in  his  ignorance,  for  who  would  knowingly 
have  done  him  an  injury  ?  Afterwards  when  he  was 
apologizing,  Cato  replied,  "  I  do  not  remember  being 
struck."  He  thought  it  better  to  ignore  the  insult  than  to 
revenge  it.  You  ask,  "  Did  no  harm  befall  that  man  for  his 
insolence  ? "  No,  but  rather  much  good ;  he  made  the 
acquaintance  of  Cato.  It  is  the  part  of  a  great  mind  to 
despise  wrongs  done  to  it ;  the  most  contemptuous  form  of 
revenge  is  not  to  deem  one's  adversary  worth  taking  ven- 
geance upon.  Many  have  taken  small  injuries  much  more 
seriously  to  heart  than  they  need,  by  revenging  them :  that 
man  is  great  and  noble  who  like  a  large  wild  animal  hears 
unmoved  the  tiny  curs  that  bark  at  him. 

XXXIII.  "  We  are  treated,"  says  our  opponent,  "  with 
more  respect  if  we  revenge  our  injuries."  If  we  make  use 
of  revenge  merely  as  a  remedy,  let  us  use  it  without  anger, 
and  not  regard  revenge  as  pleasant,  but  as  useful :  yet 
often  it  is  better  to  pretend  not  to  have  received  an  injury 
than  to  avenge  it.  The  wrongs  of  the  powerful  must  not 
only  be  borne,  but  borne  with  a  cheerful  countenance :  they 
will  repeat  the  wrong  if  they  think  they  have  inflicted  it. 
This  is  the  worst  trait  of  minds  rendered  arrogant  by 


CHAP.  XXXIII.]  OF  ANGER.  109 

prosperity,  they  hate  those  whom  they  have  injured. 
Every  one  knows  the  saying  of  the  old  courtier,  who,  when 
some  one  asked  him  how  he  had  achieved  the  rare  distinc- 
tion of  living  at  court  till  he  reached  old  age,  replied,  "  By 
receiving  wrongs  and  returning  thanks  for  them."  It  is 
often  so  far  from  expedient  to  avenge  our  wrongs,  that  it 
will  not  do  even  to  admit  them.  Gains  Caesar,  offended  at 
the  smart  clothes  and  well-dressed  hair  of  the  son  of  Pastor, 
a  distinguished  Roman  knight,  sent  him  to  prison.  When 
the  father  begged  that  his  son  might  suffer  no  harm,  Caius, 
as  if  reminded  by  this  to  put  him  to  death,  ordered  him  to 
be  executed,  yet,  in  order  to  mitigate  his  brutality  to  the 
father,  invited  him  that  very  day  to  dinner.  Pastor  came 
with  a  countenance  which  betrayed  no  ill  will.  Caesar 
pledged  him  in  a  glass  of  wine,  and  set  a  man  to  watch 
him.  The  wretched  creature  went  through  his  part,  feeling 
as  though  he  were  drinking  his  son's  blood  :  the  emperor 
sent  him  some  perfume  and  a  garland,  and  gave  orders  to 
watch  whether  he  used  them :  he  did  so.  On  the  very  day 
on  which  he  had  buried,  nay,  on  which  he  had  not  even 
buried  his  son,  he  sat  down  as  one  of  a  hundred  guests, 
and,  old  and  gouty  as  he  was,  drank  to  an  extent  which 
would  have  been  hardly  decent  on  a  child's  birthday ;  he 
shed  no  tear  the  while;  he  did  not  permit  his  grief  to 
betray  itself  by  the  slightest  sign;  he  dined  just  as  though 
his  entreaties  had  gained  his  son's  life.  You  ask  me  why 
he  did  so  ?  he  had  another  son.  What  did  Priam  do  in 
the  Iliad  ?  Did  he  not  conceal  his  wrath  and  embrace  the 
knees  of  Achilles  ?  did  he  not  raise  to  his  lips  that  death- 
deaUng  hand,  stained  with  the  blood  of  his  son,  and  sup 
with  his  slayer  ?  True  !  but  there  were  no  perfumes  and 
garlands,  and  his  fierce  enemy  encouraged  him  with  many 
soothing  words  to  eat,  not  to  drain  huge  goblets  with  a 
guard  standing  over  him  to  see  that  he  did  it.  Had  he 
only  feared  for  himself,  the  father  would  have  treated  the 


» 


110  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

tyrant  with  scorn :  but  love  for  his  son  quenched  his 
anger :  he  deserved  the  emperor's  permission  to  leave  the 
banquet  and  gather  up  the  bones  of  his  son :  but, 
meanwhile,  that  kindly  and  polite  youth  the  emperor 
would  not  even  permit  him  to  do  this,  but  tormented  the 
old  man  with  frequent  invitations  to  drink,  advising  him 
thereby  to  lighten  his  sorrows.  He,  on  the  other  hand, 
appeared  to  be  in  good  spirits,  and  to  have  forgotten  what 
had  been  done  that  day  :  he  would  have  lost  his  second 
son  had  he  proved  an  unacceptable  guest  to  the  murderer 
of  his  eldest, 

XXXIV.  We  must,  therefore,  refrain  from  anger, 
whether  he  who  provokes  us  be  on  a  level  with  ourselves, 
or  above  us,  or  below  us.  A  contest  with  one's  equal  is  of 
uncertain  issue,  with  one's  superior  is  folly,  and  with  one's 
inferior  is  contemptible.  It  is  the  part  of  a  mean  and 
wretched  man  to  turn  and  bite  one's  biter  :  even  mice  and 
ants  show  their  teeth  if  you  put  your  hand  to  them, 
and  all  feeble  creatures  think  that  they  are  hurt  if  they  are 
touched.  It  will  make  us  milder  tempered  to  call  to  mind 
any  services  which  he  with  whom  we  are  angry  may  have 
done  us,  and  to  let  his  deserts  balance  his  offence.  Let  us 
also  reflect,  how  much  credit  the  tale  of  our  forgiveness 
will  confer  upon  us,  how  many  men  may  be  made  into 
valuable  friends  by  forgiveness.  One  of  the  lessons  which 
Sulla's  cruelty  teaches  us  is  not  to  be  angTy  with  the 
children  of  our  enemies,  whether  they  be  public  or  private ; 
for  he  drove  the  sons  of  the  proscribed  into  exile.  Nothing 
is  more  unjust  than  that  any  one  should  inherit  the  quarrels 
of  his  father.  Whenever  we  are  loth  to  pardon  any  one, 
let  us  think  whether  it  would  be  to  our  advantage  that  all 
men  should  be  inexorable.  He  who  refuses  to  pardon,  how 
often  has  he  begged  it  for  himself  ?  how  often  has  he 
grovelled  at  the  feet  of  those  whom  he  spurns  from  his 
own  ?    How  can  we  gain  more  glory  than  by  turning  anger 


CH.  XXXV.]  OF   ANGER.  Ill 

into  friendship  ?  what  more  faithful  allies  has  the  Roman 
people  than  those  who  have  been  its  most  unyielding 
enemies  r  where  would  the  empire  be  to-day,  had  not  a 
wise  foresight  united  the  conquered  and  the  conquerors  ? 
If  any  one  is  angry  with  you,  meet  his  anger  by  returning 
benefits  for  it :  a  quarrel  which  is  only  taken  up  on  one 
side  falls  to  the  ground  :  it  takes  two  men  to  fight.  But  ^ 
suppose  that  there  is  an  angry  struggle  on  both  sides,  even 
then,  he  is  the  better  man  who  first  gives  way ;  the  winner  is 
the  real  loser.  He  struck  you ;  well  then,  do  you  fall  back : 
if  you  strike  him  in  turn  you  will  give  him  both  an  oppor- 
tunity and  an  excuse  for  striking  you  again :  you  will  not  be 
able  to  withdraw  yourself  from  the  struggle  when  you  please. 
XXXV.  Does  any  one  wish  to  strike  his  enemy  so  hard, 
as  to  leave  his  own  hand  in  the  wound,  and  not  to  be  able 
to  recover  his  balance  after  the  blow  ?  yet  such  a  weapon  is 
anger :  it  is  scarcely  possible  to  draw  it  back.  "We  are  careful 
to  choose  for  ourselves  light  weapons,  handy  and  manage- 
able swords :  shall  we  not  avoid  these  clumsy,  unwieldy,"^ 
and  never-to-be-recalled  impulses  of  the  mind  ?  The  only 
swiftness  of  which  men  approve  is  that  which,  when 
bidden,  checks  itself  and  proceeds  no  further,  and  which 
can  be  guided,  and  reduced  from  a  run  to  a  walk :  we  know 
that  the  sinews  are  diseased  when  they  move  against  our 
will.  A  man  must  be  either  aged  or  weakly  who  runs 
when  he  wants  to  walk  :  let  us  think  that  those  are  the 
most  powerful  and  the  soundest  operations  of  our  minds, 
which  act  under  our  own  control,  not  at  their  own  caprice. 
Nothing,  however,  will  be  of  so  much  service  as  to  con- 
sider, first,  the  hideousness,  and,  secondly,  the  danger  of 
anger.  No  passion  bears  a  more  troubled  aspect :  it  befouls 
the  fairest  face,  makes  fierce  the  expression  which  before 
was   peaceful.      From   the  angry  "  all   grace  has  fled ;  " 

^  I  adopt  Vahlen's  reading.  See  his  Preface,  p.  viii.,  ed.  Jenae,  1879. 
*  I  read  onerosos  with  Vahlen.  See  his  Preface,  p.  viii.,  ed.  Jenae,  1879. 


112  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

though  their  clothing  may  be  fashionable,  they  will  trail  it 
on  the  ground  and  take  no  heed  of  their  appearance; 
though  their  hair  be  smoothed  down  in  a  comely  manner 
by  nature  or  art,  yet  it  will  bristle  up  in  sympathy  with 
their  mind.  The  veins  become  swollen,  the  breast  will  be 
shaken  by  quick  breathing,  the  man's  neck  will  be  swelled 
as  he  roars  forth  his  frantic  talk :  then,  too,  his  limbs  will 
tremble,  his  hands  will  be  restless,  his  whole  body  will  sway 
hither  and  thither.  What,  think  you,  must  be  the  state  of 
his  mind  within  him,  when  its  appearance  without  is  so 
shocking  ?  how  far  more  dreadful  a  countenance  he  bears 
within  his  own  breast,  how  far  keener  pride,  how  much 
more  violent  rage,  which  will  burst  him  unless  it  finds 
some  vent  ?  Let  us  paint  anger  looking  like  those  who 
are  dripping  with  the  blood  of  foemen  or  savage  beasts,  or 
those  who  are  just  about  to  slaughter  them — like  those 
monsters  of  the  nether  world  fabled  by  the  poet  to  be  girt 
with  serpents  and  breathing  flame,  when  they  sally  forth 
from  hell,  most  frightful  to  behold,  in  order  that  they  may 
kindle  wars,  stir  up  strife  between  nations,  and  overthrow 
peace ;  let  us  paint  her  eyes  glowing  with  fire,  her  voice 
hissing,  roaring,  grating,  and  making  worse  sounds  if  worse 
there  be,  while  she  brandishes  weapons  in  both  hands,  for 
she  cares  not  to  protect  herself,  gloomy,  stained  with  blood, 
covered  with  scars  and  livid  with  her  own  blows,  reeling 
like  a  maniac,  wrapped  in  a  thick  cloud,  dashing  hither 
and  thither,  spreading  desolation  and  panic,  loathed  by 
every  one  and  by  herself  above  all,  willing,  if  otherwise  she 
cannot  hurt  her  foe,  to  overthrow  alike  earth,  sea,  and 
heaven,  harmful  and  hateful  at  the  same  time.  Or,  if  we  are 
to  see  her,  let  her  be  such  as  our  poets  have  described  her — 

"  There  with  her  blood-stained  scourge  Bellona  fights, 
And  Discord  in  her  riven  robe  delights,"  ' 

^  The  lines  are  from   Virgil,  ^n.  viii.   702,  but  are  inaccurately 
quoted. 


CH.  XXXVI.]  OF   ANGEE.  113 

or,  if  possible,   let  some  even  more    dreadful   aspect   be 
invented  for  this  dreadful  passion. 

XXXYI.  Some  angry  people,  as  Sextius  remarks,  have 
been  benefited  by  looking  at  the  glass :  they  have  been 
struck  by  so  great  an  alteration  in  their  own  appearance : 
they  have  been,  as  it  were,  brought  into  their  own  presence 
and  have  not  recognized  themselves :  yet  how  small  a  part 
of  the  real  hideousness  of  anger  did  that  reflected  image  in 
the  mirror  reproduce  ?  Could  the  mind  be  displayed  or 
made  to  appear  through  any  substance,  we  should  be 
confounded  when  we  beheld  how  black  and  stained,  how 
agitated,  distorted,  and  swollen  it  looked  :  even  at  present 
it  is  very  ugly  when  seen  through  all  the  screens  of  blood, 
bones,  and  so  forth  :  what  would  it  be,  were  it  displayed 
uncovered  ?  You  say,  that  you  do  not  believe  that  any  one 
was  ever  scared  out  of  anger  by  a  mirror  :  and  why  not  ? 
Because  when  he  came  to  the  mirror  to  change  his  mind, 
he  had  changed  it  already:  to  angry  men  no  face  looks 
fairer  than  one  that  is  fierce  and  savage  and  such  as  they 
wish  to  look  like.  We  ought  rather  to  consider,  how  many 
men  anger  itself  has  injured.  Some  in  their  excessive  heat 
have  burst  their  veins;  some  by  straining  their  voices  be- 
yond their  strength  have  vomited  blood,  or  have  injured 
their  sight  by  too  violently  injecting  humours  into  their 
eyes,  and  have  fallen  sick  when  the  fit  passed  off.  No  way 
leads  more  swiftly  to  madness  :  many  have,  consequently, 
remained  always  in  the  frenzy  of  anger,  and,  having  once 
lost  their  reason,  have  never  recovered  it.  Ajax  was  driven 
mad  by  anger,  and  driven  to  suicide  by  madness.  Men, 
frantic  with  rage,  call  upon  heaven  to  slay  their  children, 
to  reduce  themselves  to  poverty,  and  to  ruin  their  houses, 
and  yet  declare  that  they  are  not  either  angry  or  insane. 
Enemies  to  their  best  friends,  dangerous  to  their  nearest 
and  dearest,  regardless  of  the  laws  save  where  they  iojure, 
swayed  by  the  smallest  trifles,  unwilling  to  lend  their  ears 

I 


114  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IV. 

to  the  advice  or  the  services  of  their  friends,  they  do  every- 
thing by  main  force,  and  are  ready  either  to  fight  with 
their  swords  or  to  throw  themselves  upon  them,  for  the 
greatest  of  all  evils,  and  one  which  surpasses  all  vices,  has 
gained  possession  of  them.  Other  passions  gain  a  footing 
in  the  mind  by  slow  degrees :  anger's  conquest  is  sudden 
and  complete,  and,  moreover,  it  makes  all  other  passions 
subservient  to  itself.  It  conquers  the  warmest  love  :  men 
have  thrust  swords  through  the  bodies  of  those  whom  they 
loved,  and  have  slain  those  in  whose  arms  they  have  lain. 
Avarice,  that  sternest  and  most  rigid  of  passions,  is  trampled 
underfoot  by  anger,  which  forces  it  to  squander  its  care- 
fully collected  wealth  and  set  fire  to  its  house  and  all  its 
property  in  one  heap.  Why,  has  not  even  the  ambitious 
man  been  known  to  fling  away  the  most  highly  valued 
ensigns  of  rank,  and  to  refuse  high  office  when  it  was 
offered  to  him  ?  There  is  no  passion  over  which  anger 
does  not  bear  absolute  rule. 


THE   FIFTH  BOOK  OF   THE  DIALOGUES 

OF   L.  ANNAEUS   SENECA, 

ADDEESSED  TO  NOVATUS. 

OF   ANGER.       BOOK    III. 
I. 

WE  will  now,  my  Novatus,  attempt  to  do  that  which 
you  so  especially  long  to  do,  that  is,  to  drive  out 
anger  from  our  minds,  or  at  all  events  to  curb  it  and 
restrain  its  impulses.  This  may  sometimes  be  done  openly 
and  without  concealment,  when  we  are  only  suffering  from 
a  slight  attack  of  this  mischief,  and  at  other  times  it  must 
be  done  secretly,  when  our  anger  is  excessively  hot,  and  when 
every  obstacle  thrown  in  its  way  increases  it  and  makes  it 
blaze  higher.  It  is  important  to  know  how  great  and  how 
fresh  its  strength  may  be,  and  whether  it  can  be  driven  for- 
cibly back  and  suppressed,  or  whether  we  must  give  way  to 
it  until  its  first  storm  blow  over,  lest  it  sweep  away  with  it 
our  remedies  themselves.  We  must  deal  with  each  case 
according  to  each  man's  character :  some  yield  to  entreaties, 
others  are  rendered  arrogant  and  masterful  by  submission  : 
we  may  frighten  some  men  out  of  their  anger,  while  some 
may  be  turned  from  their  purpose  by  reproaches,  some  by 
acknowledging  oneself  to  be  in  the  wrong,  some  by  shame, 
and  some  by  delay,  a  tardy  remedy  for  a  ha^ty  disorder, 
which  we  ought  only  to  use  when  all  others  have  failed  : 


116  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK,  V. 

for  other  passions  admit  of  having  their  case  pnt  off,  and 
may  be  healed  at  a  later  time ;  but  the  eager  and  self- 
destructive  violence  of  anger  does  not  grow  up  by  slow 
degrees,  but  reaches  its  full  height  as  soon  as  it  begins. 
Nor  does  it,  like  other  vices,  merely  disturb  men's  minds, 
but  it  takes  them  away,  and  torments  them  till  they  are 
incapable  of  restraining  themselves  and  eager  for  the 
common  ruin  of  all  men,  nor  does  it  rage  merely  against 
its  object,  but  against  every  obstacle  which  it  encounters 
on  its  way.  The  other  vices  move  our  minds ;  anger 
hurls  them  headlong.  If  we  are  not  able  to  withstand  our 
passions,  yet  at  any  rate  our  passions  ought  to  stand  firm  : 
but  anger  grows  more  and  more  powerful,  like  lightning 
flashes  or  hurricanes,  or  any  other  things  which  cannot  stop 
themselves  because  they  do  not  proceed  along,  but  fall 
from  above.  Other  vices  affect  our  judgment,  anger 
affects  our  sanity :  others  come  in  mild  attacks  and  grow 
unnoticed,  but  men's  minds  plunge  abruptly  into  anger. 
There  is  no  passion  that  is  more  frantic,  more  destructive 
to  its  own  self ;  it  is  arrogant  if  successful,  and  frantic  if 
it  fails.  Even  when  defeated  it  does  not  grow  weary,  but 
if  chance  places  its  foe  beyond  its  reach,  it  turns  its  teeth 
against  itself.  Its  intensity  is  in  no  way  regulated  by  its 
origin  :  for  it  rises  to  the  greatest  heights  from  the  most 
trivial  beginnings. 

II.  It  passes  over  no  time  of  life ;  no  race  of  men  is  exempt 
from  it :  some  nations  have  been  saved  from  the  knowledge 
of  luxury  by  the  blessing  of  poverty ;  some  through  their 
active  and  wandering  habits  have  escaped  from  sloth ;  those 
whose  manners  are  unpolished  and  whose  life  is  rustic 
know  not  chicanery  and  fraud  and  all  the  evils  to  which 
the  courts  of  law  give  birth  :  but  there  is  no  race  which  is 
not  excited  by  anger,  which  is  equally  powerful  with 
Greeks  and  barbarians,  and  is  just  as  ruinous  among  law- 
abiding  folk  as  among  those  whose  only  law  is  that  of  the 


CH.  II.]  OP   ANGER,    III.  117 

stronger.  Finally,  the  other  passions  seize  upon  individuals ; 
anger  is  the  only  one  which  sometimes  possesses  a  whole 
state.  No  entire  people  ever  fell  madly  in  love  with  a 
woman,  nor  did  any  nation  ever  set  its  affections  altogether 
upon  gain  and  profit.  Ambition  attacks  single  individuals ; 
ungovernable  rage  is  the  only  passion  that  affects  nations. 
People  often  fly  into  a  passion  by  troops  ;  men  and  women, 
old  men  and  boys,  princes  and  populace  all  act  alike,  and 
the  whole  multitude,  after  being  excited  by  a  very  few  words, 
outdoes  even  its  exciter  :  men  betake  themselves  straight- 
way to  fire  and  sword,  and  proclaim  a  war  against  their 
neighbours  or  wage  one  against  their  countrymen.  Whole 
houses  are  burned  with  the  entire  families  which  they 
contain,  and  he  who  but  lately  was  honoured  for  his 
popular  eloquence  now  finds  that  his  speech  moves  people 
to  rage.  Legions  aim  their  darts  at  their  commander  ;  thd 
whole  populace  quarrels  with  the  nobles ;  the  senate,  without 
waiting  for  troops  to  be  levied  or  appointing  a  general, 
hastily  chooses  leaders,  for  its  anger  chases  well-born  men 
through  the  houses  of  Rome,  and  puts  them  to  death  with 
its  own  hand.  Ambassadors  are  outraged,  the  law  of 
nations  violated,  and  an  unnatural  madness  seizes  the  state. 
Without  allowing  time  for  the  general  excitement  to  sub- 
side, fleets  are  straightway  launched  and  laden  with  a 
hastily  enrolled  soldiery.  Without  organization,  without 
taking  any  auspices,  the  populace  rushes  into  the  field  guided 
only  by  its  own  anger,  snatches  up  whatever  comes  first  to 
hand  by  way  of  arms,  and  then  atones  by  a  great  defeat  for 
the  reckless  audacity  of  its  anger.  This  is  usually  the 
fate  of  savage  nations  when  they  plunge  into  war :  as  soon 
as  their  easily  excited  minds  are  roused  by  the  appearance 
of  wrong  having  been  done  them,  they  straightway  hasten 
forth,  and,  guided  only  by  their  wounded  feelings,  fall  like 
an  avalanche  upon  our  legions,  without  either  discipline, 
fear,  or  precaution,  and  wilfully  seeking  for  danger.     They 


118  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [BK.  V. 

delight  in  being  struck,  in  pressing  forward  to  meet  the 
blow,  writhing  their  bodies  along  the  weapon,  and  perishing 
by  a  wound  which  they  themselves  make. 

III.  "No  doubt,"  you  say,  "  anger  is  very  powerful  and 
ruinous  :  point  out,  therefore,  how  it  may  be  cured."  Yet, 
as  I  stated  in  my  former  books,  Aristotle  stands  forth  in 
defence  of  anger,  and  forbids  it  to  be  uprooted,  saying  that 
it  is  the  spur  of  virtue,  and  that  when  it  is  taken  away,  our 
minds  become  weaponless,  and  slow  to  attempt  great 
exploits.  It  is  therefore  essential  to  prove  its  unseemliness 
and  ferocity,  and  to  place  distinctly  before  our  eyes  how 
monstrous  a  thing  it  is  that  one  man  should  rage  against 
another,  with  what  frantic  violence  he  rushes  to  destroy  alike 
himself  and  his  foe,  and  overthrows  those  very  things  whose 
fall  he  himself  must  share.  What,  then  ?  can  any  one  call 
this  man  sane,  who,  as  though  caught  up  by  a  hurricane, 
does  not  go  but  is  driven,  and  is  the  slave  of  a  senseless 
disorder  ?  He  does  not  commit  to  another  the  duty  of 
revenging  him,  but  himself  exacts  it,  raging  alike  in  thought 
and  deed,  butchering  those  who  are  dearest  to  him,  and  for 
whose  loss  he  himself  will  ere  long  weep.  Will  any  one  give 
this  passion  as  an  assistant  and  companion  to  virtue, 
although  it  disturbs  calm  reason,  without  which  virtue  can 
do  nothing  ?  The  strength  which  a  sick  man  owes  to  a 
paroxysm  of  disease  is  neither  lasting  nor  wholesome,  and 
is  strong  only  to  its  own  destruction.  You  need  not,  there- 
fore, imagine  that  I  am  wasting  time  over  a  useless  task  in 
defaming  anger,  as  though  men  had  not  made  up  their 
minds  about  it,  when  there  is  some  one,  and  he,  too,  an 
illustrious  philosopher,  who  assigns  it  services  to  perform, 
and  speaks  of  it  as  useful  and  supplying  energy  for  battles, 
for  the  management  of  business,  and  indeed  for  everything 
which  requires  to  be  conducted  with  spirit.  Lest  it  should 
delude  any  one  into  thinking  that  on  certain  occasions  and 
in  certain  positions  it  may  be  useful,   we  must  show  its 


CH.  IV.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  119 

unbridled  and  frenzied  madness,  we  mnst  restore  to  it  its 
attributes,  the  rack,  the  cord,  the  dungeon,  and  the  cross, 
the  fires  lighted  round  men's  buried  bodies,  the  hook  ^  that 
drags  both  living  men  and  corpses,  the  different  kinds  of 
fetters,  and  of  punishments,  the  mutilations  of  limbs,  the 
branding  of  the  forehead,  the  dens  of  savage  beasts.  Anger 
should  be  represented  as  standing  among  these  her  instru- 
ments, growling  in  an  ominous  and  terrible  fashion,  herself 
more  shocking  than  any  of  the  means  by  which  she  gives 
vent  to  her  fury. 

lY.  There  may  be  some  doubt  about  the  others,  but  at 
any  rate  no  passion  has  a  worse  look.  "We  have  described 
the  angry  man's  appearance  in  our  former  books,  how  sharp 
and  keen  he  looks,  at  one  time  pale  as  his  blood  is  driven 
inwards  and  backwards,  at  another  with  all  the  heat  and  fire 
of  his  body  directed  to  his  face,  making  it  reddish-coloured 
as  if  stained  with  blood,  his  eyes  now  restless  and  starting 
out  of  his  head,  now  set  motionless  in  one  fixed  gaze.  Add 
to  this  his  teeth,  which  gnash  against  one  another,  as  though 
he  wished  to  eat  somebody,  with  exactly  the  sound  of  a  wild 
boar  sharpening  his  tusks :  add  also  the  cracking  of  his 
joints,  the  involuntary  wringing  of  his  hands,  the  frequent 
slaps  he  deals  himself  on  the  chest,  his  hurried  breathing 
and  deep-drawn  sighs,  his  reeling  body,  his  abrupt  broken 
speech,  and  his  trembling  lips,  which  sometimes  he  draws 
tight  as  he  hisses  some  curse  through  them.  By  Hercules, 
no  wild  beast,  neither  when  tortured  by  hunger,  or  with  a 
weapon  struck  through  its  vitals,  not  even  when  it  gathers 
its  last  breath  to  bite  its  slayer,  looks  so  shocking  as  a  man 
raging  with  anger.     Listen,  if  you  have  leisure,  to  his  words 

^  The  hook  alluded  to  was  fastened  to  the  neck  of  condemned  criminals, 
and  by  it  they  were  dragged  to  the  Tiber.  Also  the  bodies  of  dead 
gladiators  were  thus  dragged  out  of  the  arena.  The  hook  by  which  the 
dead  bull  is  drawn  away  at  a  modern  Spanish  bull-fight  is  probably  a 
survival  of  this  custom. 


120  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

and  threats :  how  dreadful  is  the  language  of  his  agonized 
mind !  Would  not  every  man  wish  to  lay  aside  anger 
when  he  sees  that  it  begins  by  injuring  himself  ?  When 
men  employ  anger  as  the  most  powerful  of  agents,  consider 
it  to  be  a  proof  of  power,  and  reckon  a  speedy  revenge 
among  the  greatest  blessings  of  great  prosperity,  would  you 
not  wish  me  to  warn  them  that  he  who  is  the  slave  of  his 
own  anger  is  not  powerful,  nor  even  free  ?  Would  you  not 
wish  me  to  warn  all  the  more  industrious  and  circumspect 
of  men,  that  while  other  evil  passions  assail  the  base,  anger 
gradually  obtains  dominion  over  the  minds  even  of  learned 
and  in  other  respects  sensible  men  ?  So  true  is  that,  that 
some  declare  anger  to  be  a  proof  of  straight-forwardness, 
and  it  is  commonly  believed  that  the  best-natured  people  are 
prone  to  it. 

V.  You  ask  me,  whither  does  all  this  tend  ?  To  prove, 
I  answer,  that  no  one  should  imagine  himself  to  be  safe 
from  anger,  seeing  that  it  rouses  up  even  those  who  are 
naturally  gentle  and  quiet  to  commit  savage  and  violent 
acts.  As  strength  of  body  and  assiduous  care  of  the  health 
avail  nothing  against  a  pestilence,  which  attacks  the  strong 
and  weak  alike,  so  also  steady  and  good-humoured  people 
are  just  as  liable  to  attacks  of  anger  as  those  of  unsettled 
character,  and  in  the  case  of  the  former  it  is  both  more  to 
be  ashamed  of  and  more  to  be  feared,  because  it  makes  a 
greater  alteration  in  their  habits.  Now  as  the  first  thing 
is  not  to  be  angry,  the  second  to  lay  aside  our  anger,  and 
the  third  to  be  able  to  heal  the  anger  of  others  as  well  as 
our  own,  I  will  set  forth  first  how  we  may  avoid  falling 
into  anger ;  next,  how  we  may  set  ourselves  free  from  it, 
and,  lastly,  how  we  may  restrain  an  angry  man,  appease  his 
wrath,  and  bring  him  back  to  his  right  mind. 

We  shall  succeed  in  avoiding  anger,  if  from  time  to 
time  we  lay  before  our  minds  all  the  vices  connected  with 
anger,  and  estimate  it  at  its  real  value :  it  must  be  prose- 


CH.  Y.]  OP   ANGEE,    III.  121 

cnted  before  us  and  convicted  :  its  evils  must  be  thoroughly 
investigated  and  exposed.  That  we  may  see  what  it  is,  let 
it  be  compared  with  the  worst  vices.  Avarice  scrapes 
tosrether  and  amasses  riches  for  some  better  man  to  use  : 
anger  spends  money  ;  few  can  indulge  in  it  for  nothing. 
How  many  slaves  an  angry  master  drives  to  run  away  or 
to  commit  suicide  !  how  much  more  he  loses  by  his  anger 
than  the  value  of  what  he  originally  became  angry  about ! 
Anger  brings  grief  to  a  father,  divorce  to  a  husband,  hatred 
to  a  magistrate,  failure  to  a  candidate  for  office.  It  is 
worse  than  luxury,  because  luxury  enjoys  its  own  pleasure, 
while  anger  enjoys  another's  pain.  It  is  worse  than  either 
spitefulness  or  envy  ;  for  they  wish  that  some  one  may 
become  unhappy,  while  anger  wishes  to  make  him  so  :  they 
are  pleased  when  evil  befalls  one  by  accident,  but  anger 
cannot  wait  upon  Fortune ;  it  desires  to  injure  its  victim 
personally,  and  is  not  satisfied  merely  with  his  being  in- 
jured. Nothing  is  more  dangerous  than  jealousy  :  it  is 
produced  by  anger.  Nothing  is  more  ruinous  than  war : 
it  is  the  outcome  of  powerful  men's  anger ;  and  even  the 
anger  of  humble  private  persons,  though  without  arms  or 
armies,  is  nevertheless  war.  Moreover,  even  if  we  pass 
over  its  immediate  consequences,  such  as  heavy  losses, 
treacherous  plots,  and  the  constant  anxiety  produced  by 
strife,  anger  pays  a  penalty  at  the  same  moment  that  it 
exacts  one  :  it  forswears  human  feelings.  The  latter  urge 
us  to  love,  anger  urges  us  to  hatred :  the  latter  bid  us  do 
men  good,  anger  bids  us  do  them  harm.  Add  to  this  that, 
although  its  rage  arises  from  an  excessive  self-respect  and 
appears  to  show  high  spirit,  it  really  is  contemptible  and 
mean  :  for  a  man  must  be  inferior  to  one  by  whom  he 
thinks  himself  despised,  whereas  the  truly  great  mind, 
which  takes  a  true  estimate  of  its  own  value,  does  not 
revenge  an  insult  because  it  does  not  feel  it.  As  weapons 
rebound  from  a  hard  surface,   and  solid  substances  hurt 


122  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

those  who  strike  them,  so  also  no  insult  can  make  a  really 
great  mind  sensible  of  its  presence,  being  weaker  than  that 
against  which  it  is  aimed.  How  far  more  glorious  is  it  to 
throw  back  all  wrongs  and  insults  from  oneself,  like  one 
wearing  armour  of  proof  against  all  weapons,  for  revenge 
is  an  admission  that  we  have  been  hurt.  That  cannot  be  a 
great  mind  which  is  disturbed  by  injury.  He  who  has 
hurt  you  must  be  either  stronger  or  weaker  than  yourself. 
If  he  be  weaker,  spare  him  :  if  he  be  stronger,  spare  yourself, 
yi.  There  is  no  greater  proof  of  magnanimity  than  that 
nothing  which  befalls  you  should  be  able  to  move  you  to 
anger.  The  higher  region  .  of  the  universe,  being  more 
excellently  ordered  and  near  to  the  stars,  is  never  gathered 
into  clouds,  driven  about  by  storms,  or  whirled  round  by 
cyclones  :  it  is  free  from  all  disturbance  :  the  lightnings 
flash  in  the  region  below  it.  In  like  manner  a  lofty  mind, 
always  placid  and  dwelling  in  a  serene  atmosphere,  re- 
straining within  itself  all  the  impulses  from  which  anger 
springs,  is  modest,  commands  respect,  and  remains  calm 
and  collected  :  none  of  which  qualities  will  you  find  in  an 
angry  man  :  for  who,  when  under  the  influence  of  grief  and 
rage,  does  not  first  get  rid  of  bashfulness  ?  who,  when 
excited  and  confused  and  about  to  attack  some  one,  does 
not  fling  away  any  habits  of  shamefacedness  he  may  have 
possessed  ?  what  angry  man  attends  to  the  number  or 
routine  of  his  duties  ?  who  uses  moderate  language  ?  who 
keeps  any  part  of  his  body  quiet  ?  who  can  guide  himself 
when  in  full  career  ?  We  shall  find  much  profit  in  that 
sound  maxim  of  Democritus  which  defines  peace  of  mind 
to  consist  in  not  labouring  much,  or  too  much  for  our 
strength,  either  in  public  or  private  matters.  A  man's  day, 
if  he  is  engaged  in  many  various  occupations,  never  passes 
so  happily  that  no  man  or  no  thing  should  give  rise  to  some 
offence  which  makes  the  mind  ripe  for  anger.  Just  as 
when  one  hurries  through  the  crowded  parts  of  the  city 


CH.  YII.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  123 

one  cannot  help  jostling  many  people,  and  one  cannot  help 
slipping  at  one  place,  being  hindered  at  another,  and 
splashed  at  another,  so  when  one's  life  is  spent  in  dis- 
connected pnrsnits  and  wanderings,  one  must  meet  with 
many  troubles  and  many  accusations.  One  man  deceives 
our  hopes,  another  delays  their  fulfilment,  another  destroys 
them :  our  projects  do  not  proceed  according  to  our 
intention.  No  one  is  so  favoured  by  Fortune  as  to  find  her 
always  on  his  side  if  he  tempts  her  often :  and  from  this 
it  follows  that  he  who  sees  several  enterprises  turn  out 
contrary  to  his  wishes  becomes  dissatisfied  with  both  men 
and  things,  and  on  the  slightest  provocation  flies  into  a 
rage  with  people,  with  undertakings,  with  places,  with 
fortune,  or  with  himself.  In  order,  therefore,  that  the 
mind  may  be  at  peace,  it  ought  not  to  be  hurried  hither  and 
thither,  nor,  as  I  said  before,  wearied  by  labour  at  great 
matters,  or  matters  whose  attainment  is  beyond  its  strength. 
It  is  easy  to  fit  one's  shoulder  to  a  light  burden,  and  to 
shift  it  from  one  side  to  the  other  without  dropping  it : 
but  we  have  difficulty  in  bearing  the  burdens  which  others' 
hands  lay  upon  us,  and  when  overweighted  by  them  we 
fling  them  off  upon  our  neighbours.  Even  when  we  do 
stand  upright  under  our  load,  we  nevertheless  reel  beneath 
a  weight  which  is  beyond  our  strength. 

y  II.  Be  assured  that  the  same  rule  applies  both  to  public 
and  private  life :  simple  and  manageable  undertakings  pro- 
ceed according  to  the  pleasure  of  the  person  in  charge  of 
them,  but  enormous  ones,  beyond  his  capacity  to  manage, 
are  not  easily  undertaken.  When  he  has  got  them  to  ad- 
minister, they  hinder  him,  and  press  hard  upon  him,  and  just 
as  he  thinks  that  success  is  within  his  grasp,  they  collapse, 
and  carry  him  with  them  :  thus  it  comes  about  that  a  man's 
wishes  are  often  disappointed  if  he  does  not  apply  himself  to 
easy  tasks,  yet  wishes  that  the  tasks  which  he  undertakes 
may  be  easy.     Whenever  you  would  attempt  anything,  first 


124  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  Y. 

form  an  estimate  both  of  your  own  powers,  of  the  extent  of 
the  matter  which  you  are  undertaking,  and  of  the  means  by 
which  you  are  to  accomplish  it :  for  if  you  have  to  abandon 
your  work  when  it  is  half  done,  the  disappointment  will  sour 
your  temper.  In  such  cases,  it  makes  a  difference  whether  one 
is  of  an  ardent  or  of  a  cold  and  unenterprising  temperament : 
for  failure  will  rouse  a  generous  spirit  to  anger,  and  will  move 
a  sluggish  and  dull  one  to  sorrow.  Let  our  undertakings, 
therefore,  be  neither  petty  nor  yet  presumptuous  and  reck- 
less :  let  our  hopes  not  range  far  from  home  :  let  us  attempt 
nothing  which  if  we  succeed  will  make  us  astonished  at  our 
success. 

YIII.  Since  we  know  not  how  to  endure  an  injury,  let  us 
take  care  not  to  receive  one :  we  should  live  with  the  quietest 
and  easiest-tempered  persons,  not  with  anxious  or  with 
sullen  ones  :  for  our  own  habits  are  copied  from  those  with 
whom  we  associate,  and  just  as  some  bodily  diseases  are  com- 
municated by  touch,  so  also  the  mind  transfers  its  vices  to 
its  neighbours.  A  drunkard  leads  even  those  who  reproach 
him  to  grow  fond  of  wine :  profligate  society  will,  if  per- 
mitted, impair  the  morals  even  of  robust-minded  men  :  ava- 
rice infects  those  nearest  it  with  its  poison.  Virtues  do  the 
same  thing  in  the  opposite  direction,  and  improve  all  those 
with  whom  they  are  brought  in  contact :  it  is  as  good  for  one 
of  unsettled  principles  to  associate  with  better  men  than 
himself  as  for  an  invalid  to  live  in  a  warm  country  with  a 
healthy  climate.  You  will  understand  how  much  may  be 
effected  this  way,  if  you  observe  how  even  wild  beasts  grow 
tame  by  dwelling  among  us,  and  how  no  animal,  however 
ferocious,  continues  to  be  wild,  if  it  has  long  been  accustomed 
to  human  companionship :  all  its  savageness  becomes 
softened,  and  amid  peaceful  scenes  is  gradually  forgotten. 
We  must  add  to  this,  that  the  man  who  lives  with  quiet  people 
is  not  only  improved  by  their  example,  but  also  by  the  fact 
that  he  finds  no  reason  for  anger  and  does  not  practise  his 


CH.  VIII.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  125 

vice  :  it  will,  therefore,  be  his  duty  to  avoid  all  those  who  he 
knows  will  excite  his  anger.  Yon  ask,  who  these  are :  many 
will  bring  abont  the  same  thing  by  various  means  ;  a  proud 
man  will  offend  you  by  his  disdain,  a  talkative  man  by  his 
abuse,  an  impudent  man  by  his  insults,  a  spiteful  man  by  his 
malice,  a  quarrelsome  man  by  his  wrangling,  a  braggart  and 
liar  by  his  vain-gloriousness :  you  will  not  endure  to  be 
feared  by  a  suspicious  man,  conquered  by  an  obstinate  one, 
or  scorned  by  an  ultra-refined  one  :  Choose  straightforward, 
good-natured,  steady  people,  who  will  not  provoke  your 
wrath,  and  will  bear  with  it.  Those  whose  dispositions  are 
yielding,  polite  and  suave,  will  be  of  even  greater  service, 
provided  they  do  not  flatter,  for  excessive  obsequiousness 
irritates  bad-tempered  men.  One  of  my  own  friends  was  a 
good  man  indeed,  but  too  prone  to  anger,  and  it  was  as 
dangerous  to  flatter  him  as  to  curse  him.  Caelius  the  orator, 
it  is  well  known,  was  the  worst-tempered  man  possible.  It 
is  said  that  once  he  was  dining  in  his  own  chamber  with  an 
especially  long-suffering  client,  but  had  great  difficulty  when 
thrown  thus  into  a  man's  society  to  avoid  quarrelling  with 
him.  The  other  thought  it  best  to  agree  to  whatever  he  said, 
and  to  play  second  fiddle,  but  Caelius  could  not  bear  his 
obsequious  agreement,  and  exclaimed,  "  Do  contradict  me  in 
something,  that  there  may  be  two  of  us !  "  Yet  even  he,  who 
was  angry  at  not  being  angry,  soon  recovered  his  temper, 
because  he  had  no  one  to  fight  with .  If,  then,  we  are  conscious 
of  an  irascible  disposition,  let  us  especially  choose  for  our 
friends  those  who  will  look  and  speak  as  we  do  :  they  will 
pamper  us  and  lead  us  into  a  bad  habit  of  listening  to  nothing 
that  does  not  please  us,  but  it  will  be  good  to  give  our  anger 
respite  and  repose.  Even  those  who  are  naturally  crabbed 
and  wild  will  yield  to  caresses :  no  creature  continues  either 
angry  or  frightened  if  you  pat  him.  Whenever  a  controversy 
seems  likely  to  be  longer  or  more  keenly  disputed  than  usual, 
let  us  check  its  first  beginnings,  before  it  gathers  strength. 


126  MINOR   DIALOOUES.  [bK.  V. 

A  dispute  nourishes  itself  as  it  proceeds,  and  takes  hold  of 
those  who  plunge  too  deeply  into  it :  it  is  easier  to  stand 
aloof  than  to  extricate  oneself  from  a  struggle. 

IX.  Irascible  men  ought  not  to  meddle  with  the  more 
serious  class  of  occupations,  or,  at  any  rate,  ought  to  stop 
short  of  weariness  in  the  pursuit  of  them  ;  their  mind  ought 
not  to  be  engaged  upon  hard  subjects,  but  handed  over  to 
pleasing  arts  :  let  it  be  softened  by  reading  poetry,  and  in- 
terested by  legendary  history  :  let  it  be  treated  with  luxury 
and  refinement.  Pythagoras  used  to  calm  his  troubled  spirit 
by  playing  upon  the  lyre :  and  who  does  not  know  that  trum- 
pets and  clarions  are  irritants,  just  as  some  airs  are  lulla- 
bies and  soothe  the  mind  ?  Green  is  good  for  wearied  eyes, 
and  some  colours  are  grateful  to  weak  sight,  while  the 
brightness  of  others  is  painful  to  it.  In  the  same  way  cheer- 
ful pursuits  soothe  unhealthy  minds.  We  must  avoid  law 
courts,  pleadings,  verdicts,  and  everything  else  that  aggra- 
vates our  fault,  and  we  ought  no  less  to  avoid  bodily  weari- 
ness ;  for  it  exhausts  all  that  is  quiet  and  gentle  in  us,  and 
rouses  bitterness.  For  this  reason  those  who  cannot  trust 
their  digestion,  when  they  are  about  to  transact  business  of 
importance  always  allay  their  bile  with  food,  for  it  is  pecu- 
liarly irritated  by  fatigue,  either  because  it  draws  the  vital 
heat  into  the  middle  of  the  body,  and  injures  the  blood  and 
stops  its  circulation  by  the  clogging  of  the  veins,  or  else  be- 
cause the  worn-out  and  weakened  body  reacts  upon  the  mind : 
this  is  certainly  the  reason  why  those  who  are  broken  by  ill- 
health  or  age  are  more  irascible  than  other  men.  Hunger 
also  and  thirst  should  be  avoided  for  the  same  reason ;  they 
exasperate  and  irritate  men's  minds  :  it  is  an  old  saying  that 
"  a  weary  man  is  quarrelsome  "  :  and  so  also  is  a  hungry  or 
a  thirsty  man,  or  one  who  is  suffering  from  any  cause  what- 
ever :  for  just  as  sores  pain  one  at  the  slightest  touch,  and 
afterwards  even  at  the  fear  of  being  touched,  so  an  unsound 
mind  takes  offence  at  the  slightest  things,  so  that  even  a 


CH.  XI.]  OF  ANGER,    HI.  127 

greeting,  a  letter,  a  speecTi,  or  a  question,  provokes  some 
men  to  anger. 

X.  That  which  is  diseased  can  never  bear  to  be  handled 
without  complaining  :  it  is  best,  therefore,  to  apply  remedies 
to  oneself  as  soon  as  we  feel  that  anything  is  wrong,  to  allow 
oneself  as  little  licence  as  possible  in  speech,  and  to  restrain 
one's  impetuosity  :  now  it  is  easy  to  detect  the  first  growth 
of  our  passions  :  the  symptoms  precede  the  disorder.  Just 
as  the  signs  of  storms  and  rain  come  before  the  storms  them- 
selves, so  there  are  certain  forerunners  of  anger,  love,  and 
all  the  storms  which  torment  our  minds.  Those  who  suffer 
from  epilepsy  know  that  the  fit  is  coming  on  if  their  ex- 
tremities become  cold,  their  sight  fails,  their  sinews  tremble, 
their  memory  deserts  them,  and  their  head  swims  :  they 
accordingly  check  the  growing  disorder  by  applying  the 
usual  remedies  :  they  try  to  prevent  the  loss  of  their  senses 
by  smelling  or  tasting  some  drug ;  they  battle  against  cold 
and  stiffness  of  limbs  by  hot  fomentations ;  or,  if  all  remedies 
fail,  they  retire  apart,  and  faint  where  no  one  sees  them  fall. 
It  is  useful  for  a  man  to  understand  his  disease,  and  to  break 
its  strength  before  it  becomes  developed.  Let  us  see  what 
it  is  that  especially  irritates  us.  Some  men  take  offence  at 
insulting  words,  others  at  deeds :  one  wishes  his  pedigree, 
another  his  person,  to  be  treated  with  respect.  This  man 
wishes  to  be  considered  especially  fashionable,  that  man  to 
be  thought  especially  learned :  one  cannot  bear  pride,  another 
cannot  bear  obstinacy.  One  thinks  it  beneath  him  to  be 
angry  with  his  slaves,  another  is  cruel  at  home,  but  gentle 
abroad.  One  imagines  that  he  is  proposed  for  office  because 
he  is  unpopular,  another  thinks  himself  insulted  because  he 
is  not  proposed.  People  do  not  all  take  offence  in  the  same 
way  ;  you  ought  then  to  know  what  your  own  weak  point  is, 
that  you  may  guard  it  with  especial  care. 

XI.  It  is  better  not  to  see  or  to  hear  everything :  many 
causes  of  offence  may  pass  by  us,  most  of  which  are  disre- 


128  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

garded  by  the  man  who  ignores  them.  Would  you  not  be 
irascible  ?  then  be  not  inquisitive.  He  who  seeks  to  know 
what  is  said  about  him,  who  digs  up  spiteful  tales  even  if 
they  were  told  in  secret,  is  himself  the  destroyer  of  his  own 
peace  of  mind.  Some  stories  may  be  so  construed  as  to 
appear  to  be  insults  :  wherefore  it  is  best  to  put  some  aside, 
to  laugh  at  others,  and  to  pardon  others.  There  are  many 
ways  in  which  anger  may  be  checked ;  most  things  may  be 
turned  into  jest.  It  is  said  that  Socrates  when  he  was  given 
a  box  on  the  ear,  merely  said  that  it  was  a  pity  a  man  could 
not  tell  when  he  ought  to  wear  his  helmet  out  walking.  It 
does  not  so  much  matter  how  an  injury  is  done,  as  how  it 
is  borne  ;  and  I  do  not  see  how  moderation  can  be  hard  to 
practise,  when  I  know  that  even  despots,  though  success  and 
impunity  combine  to  swell  their  pride,  have  sometimes  re- 
strained their  natural  ferocity.  At  any  rate,  tradition  informs 
us  that  once,  when  a  guest  in  his  cups  bitterly  reproached 
Pisistratus,  the  despot  of  Athens,  for  his  cruelty,  many  of 
those  present  offered  to  lay  hands  on  the  traitor,  and  one 
said  one  thing  and  one  another  to  kindle  his  wrath,  he  bore 
it  coolly,  and  replied  to  those  who  were  egging  him  on,  that 
he  was  no  more  angry  with  the  man  than  he  should  be  with 
one  who  ran  against  him  blindfold. 

XII.  A  large  part  of  mankind  manufacture  their  own 
grievances  either  by  entertaining  unfounded  suspicions  or 
by  exaggerating  trifles.  Anger  often  comes  to  us,  but  we 
often  go  to  it.  It  ought  never  to  be  sent  for  :  even  when  it 
falls  in  our  way  it  ought  to  be  flung  aside.  'No  one  says  to 
himself,  "  I  myself  have  done  or  might  have  done  this  very 
thing  which  I  am  angry  with  another  for  doing."  No  one  con- 
siders the  intention  of  the  doer,  but  merely  the  thing  done  : 
yet  we  ought  to  think  about  him,  and  whether  he  did  it 
intentionally  or  accidentally,  under  compulsion  or  under  a 
mistake,  whether  he  did  it  out  of  hatred  for  us,  or  to  gain 
something  for  himself,  whether  he  did  it  to  please  himself 


CH.  XII.]  OP   ANGEE,    III.  129 

or  to  serve  a  friend.  In  some  cases  the  age,  in  others  the 
worldly  fortunes  of  the  culprit  may  render  it  humane  or  ad- 
vantageous to  bear  with  him  and  put  up  with  what  he  has 
done.  Let  us  put  ourselves  in  the  place  of  him  with  whom 
we  are  angry  :  at  present  an  overweening  conceit  of  our  own 
importance  makes  us  prone  to  anger,  and  we  are  quite  willing 
to  do  to  others  what  we  cannot  endure  should  be  done  to  our- 
selves. No  one  will  postpone  his  anger :  yet  delay  is  the  best 
remedy  for  it,  because  it  allows  its  first  glow  to  subside,  and 
gives  time  for  the  cloud  which  darkens  the  mind  either  to 
disperse  or  at  any  rate  to  become  less  dense.  Of  these  wrongs 
which  drive  you  frantic,  some  will  grow  lighter  after  an  inter- 
val, not  of  a  day,  but  even  of  an  hour :  some  will  vanish  alto- 
gether. Even  if  you  gain  nothing  by  your  adjournment,  still 
what  you  do  after  it  will  appear  to  be  the  result  of  mature 
deliberation,  not  of  anger.  If  you  want  to  find  out  the  truth 
about  anything,  commit  the  task  to  time  :  nothing  can  be 
accurately  discerned  at  a  time  of  disturbance.  Plato,  when 
angry  with  his  slave,  could  not  prevail  upon  himself  to  wait, 
but  straightway  ordered  him  to  take  o£E  his  shirt  and  present 
his  shoulders  to  the  blows  which  he  meant  to  give  him  with 
his  own  hand  :  then,  when  he  perceived  that  he  was  angry, 
he  stopped  the  hand  which  he  had  raised  in  the  air,  and 
stood  like  one  in  act  to  strike.  Being  asked  by  a  friend  who 
happened  to  come  in,  what  he  was  doing,  he  answered :  "I 
am  making  an  angry  man  expiate  his  crime."  He  retained 
the  posture  of  one  about  to  give  way  to  passion,  as  if  struck 
with  astonishment  at  its  being  so  degrading  to  a  philosopher, 
forgetting  the  slave,  because  he  had  found  another  still  more 
deserving  of  punishment.  He  therefore  denied  himself  the 
exercise  of  authority  over  his  own  household,  and  once,  being 
rather  angry  at  some  fault,  said,  "  Speusippus,  will  you 
please  to  correct  that  slave  with  stripes ;  for  I  am  in  a  rage." 
He  would  not  strike  him,  for  the  very  reason  for  which 
another  man  would  have  struck  him.     "I  am  in  a  rage,"  said 

K 


130  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

he ;  "I  should  beat  him  more  than  I  ought :  I  should  take 
more  pleasure  than  I  ought  in  doing  so  :  let  not  that  slave 
fall  into  the  power  of  one  who  is  not  in  his  own  power." 
Can  any  one  wish  to  grant  the  power  of  revenge  to  an  angry 
man,  when  Plato  himself  gave  up  his  own  right  to  exercise  it? 
While  you  are  angry,  you  ought  not  to  be  allowed  to  do  any- 
thing. "  Why  ?"  do  you  ask  ?  Because  when  you  are  angry 
there  is  nothing  that  you  do  not  wish  to  be  allowed  to  do. 

XIII.  Fight  hard  with  yourself  and  if  you  cannot  conquer 
anger,  do  not  let  it  conquer  you  :  you  have  begun  to  get  the 
better  of  it  if  it  does  not  show  itself,  if  it  is  not  given  vent 
Let  us  conceal  its  symptoms,  and  as  far  as  possible  keep  it 
secret  and  hidden.  It  will  give  us  great  trouble  to  do  this, 
for  it  is  eager  to  burst  forth,  to  kindle  our  eyes  and  to 
transform  our  face ;  but  if  we  allow  it  to  show  itself  in  our 
outward  appearance,  it  is  our  master.  Let  it  rather  be 
locked  in  the  innermost  recesses  of  our  breast,  and  be  borne 
by  us,  not  bear  us :  nay,  let  us  replace  all  its  symptoms  by 
their  opposites ;  let  us  make  our  countenance  more  com- 
posed than  usual,  our  voice  milder,  our  step  slower.  Our 
inward  thoughts  gradually  become  influenced  by  our  out- 
ward demeanour.  With  Socrates  it  was  a  sign  of  anger 
when  he  lowered  his  voice,  and  became  sparing  of  speech ; 
it  was  evident  at  such  times  that  he  was  exercising  restraint 
over  himself.  His  friends,  consequently,  used  to  detect 
him  acting  thus,  and  convict  him  of  being  angry ;  nor  was 
he  displeased  at  being  charged  with  concealment  of  anger ; 
indeed,  how  could  he  help  being  glad  that  many  men  should 
perceive  his  anger,  yet  that  none  should  feel  it  ?  they  would, 
however,  have  felt  it  had  not  he  granted  to  his  friends  the 
same  right  of  criticizing  his  own  conduct  which  he  himself 
assumed  over  theirs.  How  much  more  needful  is  it  for  us 
to  do  this  ?  let  us  beg  all  our  best  friends  to  give  us  their 
opinion  with  the  greatest  freedom  at  the  very  time  when 
we  can  bear  it  least,  and  never  to  be  compliant  with  us 


CH.  XTV.]  OF  ANGER,    III.  131 

when  we  are  angry.  While  we  are  in  our  right  senses, 
while  we  are  under  our  own  control,  let  us  call  for  help 
against  so  powerful  an  evil,  and  one  which  we  regard  with 
such  unjust  favour.  Those  who  cannot  carry  their  wine 
discreetly,  and  fear  to  be  betrayed  into  some  rash  and  inso- 
lent act,  give  their  slaves  orders  to  take  them  away  from 
the  banquet  when  they  are  drunk ;  those  who  know  by 
experience  how  unreasonable  they  are  when  sick  give  orders 
that  no  one  is  to  obey  them  when  they  are  in  ill  health.  It 
is  best  to  prepare  obstacles  beforehand  for  vices  which  are 
known,  and  above  all  things  so  to  tranquilize  our  mind  that 
it  may  bear  the  most  sudden  and  violent  shocks  either 
without  feeling  anger,  or,  if  anger  be  provoked  by  the  extent 
of  some  unexpected  wrong,  that  it  may  bury  it  deep,  and 
not  betray  its  wound.  That  it  is  possible  to  do  this  will 
be  seen,  if  I  quote  a  few  of  an  abundance  of  examples,  from 
which  we  may  learn  both  how  much  evil  there  is  in  anger, 
when  it  exercises  entire  dominion  over  men  in  supreme 
power,  and  how  completely  it  can  control  itself  when  over- 
awed by  fear. 

XIV.  King  Cambyses  ^  was  excessively  addicted  to  wine. 
Praexaspes  was  the  only  one  of  his  closest  friends  who  ad- 
vised him  to  drink  more  sparingly,  pointing  out  how 
shameful  a  thing  drunkenness  was  in  a  king,  upon  whom 
all  eyes  and  ears  were  fixed.  Cambyses  answered,  "  That 
you  may  know  that  I  never  lose  command  of  myself,  I  will 
presently  prove  to  you  that  both  my  eyes  and  my  hands  are 
fit  for  service  after  I  have  been  drinking."  Hereupon  he 
drank  more  freely  than  usual,  using  larger  cups,  and  when 
heavy  and  besotted  with  wine  ordered  his  reprover's  son  to 
go  beyond  the  threshold  and  stand  there  with  his  left  hand 
raised  above  his  head ;  then  he  bent  his  bow  and  pierced 
the  youth's  heart,  at  which  he  had  said  that  he  aimed.    He 

^   Hdt.  iii.  34,  35. 


132  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

then  had  his  breast  cut  open,  showed  the  arrow  sticking 
exactly  into  the  heart,  and,  looking  at  the  boy's  father, 
asked  whether  his  hand  was  not  steady  enough.  He  replied, 
that  Apollo  himself  could  not  have  taken  better  aim.  God 
confound  such  a  man,  a  slave  in  mind,  if  not  in  station ! 
He  actually  praised  an  act  which  he  ought  not  to  have  en- 
dured to  witness.  He  thought  that  the  breast  of  his  son 
being  torn  assunder,  and  his  heart  quivering  with  its 
wound,  gave  him  an  opportunity  of  making  a  compli- 
mentary speech.  He  ought  to  have  raised  a  dispute  with 
him  about  his  success,  and  have  called  for  another  shot, 
that  the  king  might  be  pleased  to  prove  upon  the  person 
of  the  father  that  his  hand  was  even  steadier  than  when  he 
shot  the  son.  What  a  savage  king  !  what  a  worthy  mark 
for  all  his  follower's  arrows  !  Yet  though  we  curse  him 
for  making  his  banquet  end  in  cruelty  and  death,  still  it 
was  worse  to  praise  that  arrow-shot  than  to  shoot  it.  We 
shall  see  hereafter  how  a  father  ought  to  bear  himself 
when  standing  over  the  corpse  of  his  son,  whose  murder  he 
had  both  caused  and  witnessed :  the  matter  which  we  are 
now  discussing,  has  been  proved,  I  mean,  that  anger  can 
be  suppressed.  He  did  not  curse  the  king,  he  did  not  so 
much  as  let  fall  a  single  inauspicious  word,  though  he  felt 
his  own  heart  as  deeply  wounded  as  that  of  his  son.  He 
may  be  said  to  have  done  well  in  choking  down  his  words ; 
for  though  he  might  have  spoken  as  an  angry  man,  yet  he 
could  not  have  expressed  what  he  felt  as  a  father.  He  may, 
I  repeat,  be  thought  to  have  behaved  with  greater  wisdom 
on  that  occasion  than  when  he  tried  to  regulate  the  drink 
of  one  who  was  better  employed  in  drinking  wine  than  in 
drinking  blood,  and  who  granted  men  peace  while  his  hands 
were  busy  with  the  winecup.  He,  therefore,  added  one 
more  to  the  number  of  those  who  have  shown  to  their 
bitter  cost  how  little  kings  care  for  their  friends'  good 
advice. 


CH.  XV.]  OF    ANGER,    III.  138 

XY.  I  have  no  doubt  that  Harpagus  must  have  given 
some  such  advice  to  the  king  of  the  Persians  and  of  him- 
self, in  anger  at  which  the  king  placed  Harpagus's  own 
children  before  him  on  the  dinner-table  for  him  to  eat,  and 
asked  him  from  time  to  time,  whether  he  liked  the  seasoning. 
Then,  when  he  saw  that  he  was  satiated  with  his  own  misery, 
he  ordered  their  heads  to  be  brought  to  him,  and  asked  him 
how  he  liked  his  entertainment.  The  wretched  man  did 
not  lose  his  readiness  of  speech ;  his  face  did  not  change. 
*' Every  kind  of  dinner,"  said  he,  "  is  pleasant  at  the  king's 
table."  What  did  he  gain  by  this  obsequiousness  ?  He 
avoided  being  invited  a  second  time  to  dinner,  to  eat  what 
was  left  of  them.  I  do  not  forbid  a  father  to  blame  the 
act  of  his  king,  or  to  seek  for  some  revenge  worthy  of  so 
bloodthirsty  a  monster,  but  in  the  meanwhile  I  gather 
from  the  tale  this  fact,  that  even  the  anger  which  arises 
from  unheard  of  outrages  can  be  concealed,  and  forced 
into  using  language  which  is  the  very  reverse  of  its  mean- 
ing. This  way  of  curbing  anger  is  necessary,  at  least  for 
those  who  have  chosen  this  sort  of  life  and  who  are  ad- 
mitted to  dine  at  a  king's  table  ;  this  is  how  they  must  eat 
and  drink,  this  is  how  they  must  answer,  and  how  they 
must  laugh  at  their  own  deaths.  Whether  life  is  worth 
having  at  such  a  price,  we  shall  see  hereafter;  that  is 
another  question.  Let  us  not  console  so  sorry  a  crew,  or 
encourage  them  to  submit  to  the  orders  of  their  butchers ; 
let  us  point  out  that  however  slavish  a  man's  condition 
may  be,  there  is  always  a  path  to  liberty  open  to  him,  un- 
less his  mind  be  diseased.  It  is  a  man's  own  fault  if  he 
suffers,  when  by  putting  an  end  to  himself  he  can  put  an 
end  to  his  misery.  To  him  whose  king  aimed  arrows  at 
the  breasts  of  his  friends,  and  to  him  whose  master  gorged 
fathers  with  the  hearts  of  their  children,  I  would  say 
*'  Madman,  why  do  you  groan  ?  for  what  are  you  waiting  ? 
for  some  enemy  to  avenge  you  by  the  destruction  of  your 


134  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

entire  nation,  or  for  some  powerful  king  to  arrive  from  a 
distant  land  ?  Wherever  you  turn  your  eyes  you  may  see 
an  end  to  your  woes.  Do  you  see  that  precipice  ?  down 
that  lies  the  road  to  liberty ;  do  you  see  that  sea  ?  that 
river  ?  that  well  ?  Liberty  sits  at  the  bottom  of  them.  Do 
you  see  that  tree  ?  stunted,  blighted,  dried  up  though  it 
be,  yet  liberty  hangs  from  its  branches.  Do  you  see  your 
own  throat,  your  own  neck,  your  own  heart  ?  they  are  so 
many  ways  of  escape  from  slavery.  Are  these  modes  which 
I  point  out  too  laborious,  and  needing  much  strength  and 
courage  ?  do  you  ask  what  path  leads  to  liberty  ?  I 
answer,  any  vein  ^  in  your  body. 

XYI.  As  long,  however,  as  we  find  nothing  in  our  life 
so  unbearable  as  to  drive  us  to  suicide,  let  us,  in  whatever 
position  we  may  be,  set  anger  far  from  us  :  it  is  destructive 
to  those  who  are  its  slaves.  All  its  rage  turns  to  its  own 
misery,  and  authority  becomes  all  the  more  irksome  the 
more  obstinately  it  is  resisted.  It  is  like  a  wild  animal 
whose  struggles  only  pull  the  noose  by  which  it  is  caught 
tighter  ;  or  like  birds  who,  while  flurriedly  trying  to  shake 
themselves  free,  smear  birdlime  on  to  all  their  feathers. 
1^0  yoke  is  so  grievous  as  not  to  hurt  him  who  struggles 
against  it  more  than  him  who  yields  to  it :  the  only  way  to 
alleviate  great  evils  is  to  endure  them  and  to  submit  to  do 
what  they  compel.  This  control  of  our  passions,  and  espe- 
cially of  this  mad  and  unbridled  passion  of  anger,  is  useful 
to  subjects,  but  still  more  useful  to  kings.  All  is  lost  when 
a  man's  position  enables  him  to  carry  out  whatever  anger 
prompts  him  to  do;  nor  can  power  long  endure  if  it  be 
exercised  to  the  injury  of  many,  for  it  becomes  endangered 
as  soon  as  common  fear  draws  together  those  who  bewail 
themselves  separately.  Many  kings,  therefore,  have  fallen 
victims,  some  to  single  individuals,  others  to  entire  peoples, 

^  Seneca's  own  death,  by  opening  his  veins,  gives  a  melancholy  in- 
terest to  this  passage. 


CH.  XVII.]  OF  ANGER,    III.  136 

who  have  been  forced  by  general  indignation  to  make  one 
man  the  minister  of  their  wrath.  Yet  many  kings  have 
indulged  their  anger  as  though  it  were  a  privilege  of 
royalty,  like  Darins,  who,  after  the  dethronement  of  the 
Magian,  was  the  first  rnler  of  the  Persians  and  of  the 
greater  part  of  the  East :  for  when  he  declared  war  ^ 
against  the  Scythians  who  bordered  on  the  empire  of  the 
East,  Oeobazus,  an  aged  noble,  begged  that  one  of  his  three 
sons  might  be  left  at  home  to  comfort  his  father,  and  that 
the  king  might  be  satisfied  with  the  services  of  two  of 
them.  Darius  promised  him  more  than  he  asked  for,  say- 
ing that  he  would  allow  all  three  to  remain  at  home,  and 
flung  their  dead  bodies  before  their  father's  eyes.  He 
would  have  been  harsh,  had  he  taken  them  all  to  the  war 
with  him.  How  mnch  more  good-natured  was  Xerxes,^ 
who,  when  Pythias,  the  father  of  five  sons,  begged  for  one 
to  be  excused  from  service,  permitted  him  to  choose  which 
he  wished  for.  He  then  tore  the  son  whom  the  father  had 
chosen  into  two  halves,  placed  one  on  each  side  of  the 
road,  and,  as  it  were,  purified  his  army  by  means  of  this 
propitiatory  victim.  He  therefore  had  the  end  which  he 
deserved,  being  defeated,  and  his  army  scattered  far  and 
wide  in  ntter  rout,  while  he  in  the  midst  of  it  walked 
among  the  corpses  of  his  soldiers,  seeing  on  all  sides  the 
signs  of  his  own  overthrow. 

XVII.  So  ferocious  in  their  anger  were  those  kings 
who  had  no  learning,  no  tincture  of  polite  literature :  now 
I  will  show  you  King  Alexander  (the  Great),  fresh  from 
the  lap  of  Aristotle,  who  with  his  own  hand  while  at  table 
stabbed  Clitns,  his  dearest  friend,  who  had  been  brought 
up  with  him,  because  he  did  not  flatter  him  enough,  and 
was  too  slow  in  transforming  himself  from  a  free  man  and 
a  Macedonian  into  a  Persian  slave.     Indeed  he  shut  up 

1  Hdt.  iv.  84.  2  Hdt.  vii.  38,  39. 


136  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

Lysimachus,*  who  was  no  less  his  friend  than  Clitus,  in  a 
cage  with  a  lion  ;  yet  did  this  make  Lysimachus,  who 
escaped  by  some  happy  chance  from  the  lion's  teeth,  any 
gentler  when  he  became  a  king  ?  Why,  he  mutilated  his 
own  friend,  Telesphorns  the  Rhodian,  cutting  off  his  nose 
and  ears,  and  kept  him  for  a  long  while  in  a  den,  like 
some  new  and  strange  animal,  after  the  hideousness  of  his 
hacked  and  disfigured  face  had  made  him  no  longer  appear 
to  be  human,  assisted  by  Starvation  and  the  squalid  filth 
of  a  body  left  to  wallow  in  its  own  dung  !  Besides  this, 
his  hands  and  knees,  which  the  narrowness  of  his  abode 
forced  him  to  use  instead  of  his  feet,  became  hard  and 
callous,  while  his  sides  were  covered  with  sores  by  rubbing 
against  the  walls,  so  that  his  appearance  was  no  less  shock- 
ing than  frightful,  and  his  punishment  turned  him  into  so 
monstrous  a  creature  that  he  was  not  even  pitied.  Yet, 
however  unlike  a  man  he  was  who  suffered  this,  even  more 
unlike  was  he  who  inflicted  it. 

XYIII.  Would  to  heaven  that  such  savagery  had  con- 
tented itself  with  foreign  examples,  and  that  barbarity  in 
anger  and  punishment  had  not  been  imported  with  other 
outlandish  vices  into  our  Roman  manners  !  Marcus 
Marius,  to  whom  the  people  erected  a  statue  in  every 
street,  to  whom  they  made  offerings  of  incense  and  wine, 
had,  by  the  command  of  Lucius  Sulla,  his  legs  broken,  his 
eyes  pulled  out,  his  hands  cut  off,  and  his  whole  body 
gradually  torn  to  pieces  limb  by  limb,  as  if  Sulla  killed 
him  as  many  times  as  he  wounded  him.  Who  was  it 
who  carried  out  Sulla's  orders  ?  who  but  Catiline,  already 
practising  his  hands  in  every  sort  of  wickedness  ?  He 
tore  him  to  pieces  before  the  tomb  of  Quintus  Catulus,  an 
unwelcome  burden  to  the  ashes  of  that  gentlest  of  men, 
above  which  one  who  was  no  doubt  a  criminal,  yet  never- 

1  Plut.  Dem.  27. 


CH.  XIX.]  OF  ANGER,    III.  137 

theless  the  idol  of  the  people,  and  who  was  not  undeserv- 
ing of  love,  although  men  loved  him  beyond  all  reason,  was 
forced  to  shed  his  blood  drop  by  drop.  Though  Marius 
deserved  such  tortures,  yet  it  was  worthy  of  Sulla  to  order 
them,  and  of  Catiline  to  execute  them ;  but  it  was  un- 
worthy of  the  State  to  be  stabbed  by  the  swords  of  her 
enemy  and  her  avenger  alike.  Why  do  I  pry  into  ancient 
history  ?  quite  lately  Grains  Caesar  flogged  and  tortured 
Sextus  Papinius,  whose  father  was  a  consular,  Betilienus 
Bassus,  his  own  quaestor,  and  several  others,  both  senators 
and  knights,  on  the  same  day,  not  to  carry  out  any  judicial 
inquiry,  but  merely  to  amuse  himself.  Indeed,  so  impa- 
tient was  he  of  any  delay  in  receiving  the  pleasure  which 
his  monstrous  cruelty  never  delayed  in  asking,  that  when 
walking  with  some  ladies  and  senators  in  his  mother's 
gardens,  along  the  walk  between  the  colonnade  and  the 
river,  he  struck  off  some  of  their  heads  by  lamplight. 
What  did  he  fear  ?  what  public  or  private  danger  could 
one  night  threaten  him  with  ?  how  very  small  a  favour  it 
would  have  been  to  wait  until  morning,  and  not  to  kill  the 
Roman  people's  senators  in  his  slippers  ? 

XIX.  It  is  to  the  purpose  that  we  should  know  how 
haughtily  his  cruelty  was  exercised,  although  some  one 
might  suppose  that  we  are  wandering  from  the  subject 
and  embarking  on  a  digression  ;  but  this  digression  is 
itself  connected  with  unusual  outbursts  of  anger.  He  beat 
senators  with  rods  ;  he  did  it  so  often  that  he  made  men 
able  to  say,  "It  is  the  custom."  He  tortured  them 
with  all  the  most  dismal  engines  in  the  world,  with  the 
cord,  the  boots,  the  rack,  the  fire,  and  the  sight  of  his  own 
face.  Even  to  this  we  may  answer,  "  To  tear  three  sena- 
tors to  pieces  with  stripes  and  fire  like  criminal  slaves  was 
no  such  great  crime  for  one  who  had  thoughts  of  butcher- 
ing the  entire  Senate,  who  was  wont  to  wish  that  the 
Roman  people  had  but  one  neck,  that  he  might  concentrate 


138  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

into  one  day  and  one  blow  all  the  wickedness  which  he 
divided  among  so  many  places  and  times.  Was  there  ever 
anything  so  nnheard-of  as  an  execution  in  the  night-time  ? 
Highway  robbery  seeks  for  the  shelter  of  darkness,  but  the 
more  public  an  execntion  is,  the  more  power  it  has  as  an 
example  and  lesson.  Here  I  shall  be  met  by:  "This, 
which  you  are  so  surprised  at,  was  the  daily  habit  of  that 
monster ;  this  was  what  he  lived  for,  watched  for,  sat  up 
at  night  for."  Certainly  one  could  find  no  one  else  who 
would  have  ordered  all  those  whom  he  condemned  to  death 
to  have  their  mouths  closed  by  a  sponge  being  fastened  in 
them,  that  they  might  not  have  the  power  even  of  uttering 
a  sound.  What  dying  man  was  ever  forbidden  to  groan  ? 
He  feared  that  the  last  agony  might  find  too  free  a  voice, 
that  he  might  hear  what  would  displease  him.  He  knew, 
moreover,  that  there  were  countless  crimes,  with  which 
none  but  a  dying  man  would  dare  to  reproach  him.  When 
sponges  were  not  forthcoming,  he  ordered  the  wretched 
men's  clothes  to  be  torn  up,  and  the  rags  stufEed  into  their 
mouths.  What  savagery  was  this  ?  Let  a  man  draw  his 
last  breath  :  give  room  for  his  soul  to  escape  through :  let 
it  not  be  forced  to  leave  the  body  through  a  wound.  It 
becomes  tedious  to  add  to  this  that  in  the  same  night  he 
sent  centurions  to  the  houses  of  the  executed  men  and 
made  an  end  of  their  fathers  also,  that  is  to  say,  being  a 
compassionate-minded  man,  he  set  them  free  from  sorrow : 
for  it  is  not  my  intention  to  describe  the  ferocity  of  Gains, 
but  the  ferocity  of  anger,  which  does  not  merely  vent  its 
rage  upon  individuals,  but  rends  in  pieces  whole  nations, 
and  even  lashes  cities,  rivers,  and  things  which  have  no  sense 
of  pain. 

XX.  Thus,  the  king  of  the  Persians  cut  off  the  noses  of 
a  whole  nation  in  Syria,  wherefore  the  place  is  called  Rhino- 
colura.  l5o  you  think  that  he  was  merciful,  because  he  did 
not  cut  their  heads  off  altogether  ?  no,  he  was  delighted  at 


CH.  XXI.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  139 

having  invented  a  new  kind  of  punishment.  Something 
of  the  same  kind  would  have  befallen  the  Ethiopians/  who 
on  account  of  their  prodigiously  long  lives  are  called  Macro- 
biotae  ;  for,  because  they  did  not  receive  slavery  with  hands 
uplifted  to  heaven  in  thankfulness,  and  sent  an  embassy 
which  used  independent,  or  what  kings  call  insulting 
language,  Cambyses  became  wild  with  rage,  and,  without 
any  store  of  provisions,  or  any  knowledge  of  the  roads, 
started  with  all  his  fighting  men  through  an  arid  and  track- 
less waste,  where  during  the  first  day's  march  the  neces- 
saries of  life  failed,  and  the  country  itself  furnished  nothing, 
being  barren  and  uncultivated,  and  untrodden  by  the  foot 
of  man.  At  first  the  tenderest  parts  of  leaves  and  shoots 
of  trees  relieved  their  hunger,  then  hides  softened  by  fire, 
and  anything  else  that  their  extremity  drove  them  to  use 
as  food.  When  as  they  proceeded  neither  roots  nor  herbs 
were  to  be  found  in  the  sand,  and  they  found  a  wilderness 
destitute  even  of  animal  life,  they  chose  each  tenth  man  by 
lot  and  made  of  him  a  meal  which  was  more  cruel  than 
hunger.  Rage  still  drove  the  king  madly  forwards,  until 
after  he  had  lost  one  part  of  his  army  and  eaten  another 
he  began  to  fear  that  he  also  might  be  called  upon  to  draw 
the  lot  for  his  life ;  then  at  last  he  gave  the  order  for 
retreat.  Yet  all  the  while  his  well-bred  hawks  were  not 
sacrificed,  and  the  means  of  feasting  were  carried  for  him 
on  camels,  while  his  soldiers  were  drawing  lots  for  who 
should  miserably  perish,  and  who  should  yet  more  miser- 
ably live. 

XXI.  This  man  was  angry  with  an  unknown  and  inof- 
fensive nation,  which  nevertheless  was  able  to  feel  his 
wrath  ;  but  Cyrus  ^  was  angry  with  a  river.  When  hurry- 
ing to  besiege  Babylon,  since  in  making  war  it  is  above  all 
things  important  to  seize  one's  opportunity,  he  tried  to  ford 
the  wide- spread  river  Gryndes,  which  it  is  hardly  safe  to 

^  Hdt.  iii.  17,  sqq.  ^  Hdt.  i.  189,  190. 


140  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

attempt  even  when  the  river  has  been  dried  up  by  the 
summer  heat  and  is  at  its  lowest.  Here  one  of  the  white 
horses  which  drew  the  royal  chariot  was  washed  away,  and 
his  loss  moved  the  king  to  such  violent  rage,  that  he  swore 
to  reduce  the  river  which  had  carried  off  his  royal  retinue 
to  so  low  an  ebb  that  even  women  should  walk  across 
it  and  trample  upon  it.  He  thereupon  devoted  all  the 
resources  of  his  army  to  this  object,  and  remained  working 
until  by  cutting  one  hundred  and  eighty  channels  across 
the  bed  of  the  river  he  divided  it  into  three  hundred  and 
sixty  brooks,  and  left  the  bed  dry,  the  waters  flowing 
through  other  channels.  Thus  he  lost  time,  which  is  very 
important  in  great  operations,  and  lost,  also,  the  soldiers' 
courage,  which  was  broken  by  useless  labour,  and  the  oppor- 
tunity of  falling  upon  his  enemy  unprepared,  while  he  was 
waging  against  the  river  the  war  which  he  had  declared 
against  his  foes.  This  frenzy,  for  what  else  can  you  call  it, 
has  befallen  Romans  also,  for  Gr.  Csesar  destroyed  a  most 
beautiful  villa  at  Herculaneum  because  his  mother  was 
once  imprisoned  in  it,  and  has  thus  made  the  place  noto- 
rious by  its  misfortune  ;  for  while  it  stood,  we  used  to  sail 
past  it  without  noticing  it,  but  now  people  inquire  why  it  is 
in  ruins. 

XXII.  These  should  be  regarded  as  examples  to  be 
avoided,  and  what  I  am  about  to  relate,  on  the  contrary, 
to  be  followed,  being  examples  of  gentle  and  lenient  con- 
duct in  men  who  both  had  reasons  for  anger  and  power  to 
avenge  themselves.  What  could  have  been  easier  than  for 
Antigonus  to  order  those  two  common  soldiers  to  be  exe- 
cuted who  leaned  against  their  king's  tent  while  doing 
what  all  men  especially  love  to  do,  and  run  the  greatest 
danger  by  doing,  I  mean  while  they  spoke  evil  of  their 
king.  Antigonus  heard  all  they  said,  as  was  likely,  since 
there  was  only  a  piece  of  cloth  between  the  speakers  and 
the  listener,  who  gently  raised  it,  and  said  "  Go  a  little 


CH.  XXIII,]  OF    ANGER,    III.  141 

further  off,  for  fear  the  king  should  hear  you."  He  also  on 
one  night,  hearing  some  of  his  soldiers  invoking  every- 
thing that  was  evil  upon  their  king  for  having  brought 
them  along  that  road  and  into  that  impassable  mud,  went 
to  those  who  were  in  the  greatest  difficulties,  and  having 
extricated  them  without  their  knowing  who  was  their 
helper,  said,  "  Now  curse  Antigonus,  by  whose  fault  yon 
have  fallen  into  this  trouble,  but  bless  the  man  who  has 
brought  you  out  of  this  slough."  This  same  Antigonus 
bore  the  abuse  of  his  enemies  as  good-naturedly  as  that  of 
his  countrymen ;  thus  when  he  was  besieging  some  Greeks 
in  a  little  fort,  and  they,  despising  their  enemy  through 
their  confidence  in  the  strength  of  their  position,  cut  many 
jokes  upon  the  ugliness  of  Antigonus,  at  one  time  mocking 
him  for  his  shortness  of  stature,  at  another  for  his  broken 
nose,  he  answered,  "  I  rejoice,  and  expect  some  good  for- 
tune because  I  have  a  Silenus  in  my  camp."  After  he  had 
conquered  these  witty  folk  by  hunger,  his  treatment  of 
them  was  to  form  regiments  of  those  who  were  fit  for  ser- 
vice, and  sell  the  rest  by  public  auction  ;  nor  would  he,  said 
he,  have  done  this  had  it  not  been  better  that  men  who  had 
such  evil  tongues  should  be  under  the  control  of  a  master. 

XXIII.  This  man's  grandson  ^  was  Alexander,  who  used 
to  hurl  his  lance  at  his  guests,  who,  of  the  two  friends 
which  I  have  mentioned  above,  exposed  one  to  the  rage  of 
a  wild  beast,  and  the  other  to  his  own ;  yet  of  these  two 
men,  he  who  was  exposed  to  the  lion  survived.  He  did  not 
derive  this  vice  from  his  grandfather,  nor  even  from  his 
father ;  for  it  was  an  especial  virtue  of  Philip's  to  endure 
insults  patiently,  and  was  a  great  safeguard  of  his  kingdom. 
Demochares,  who  was  surnamed  Parrhesiastes  on  account 
of  his  unbridled  and  impudent  tongue,  came  on  an  embassy 
to  him  with  other  ambassadors  from  Athens.     After  gra- 

^  A  mistake:  Antigonus  (Monophthalmus)  was  one  of  Alexander's 
generals. 


142  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

ciously  listening  to  what  they  had  to  say,  Philip  said  to 
them,  "  Tell  me,  what  can  I  do  that  will  please  the  Athe- 
nians ?  "  Demochares  took  him  up,  and  answered,  "  Hang 
yourself."  All  the  bystanders  expressed  their  indignation 
at  so  brutal  an  answer,  but  Philip  bade  them  be  silent,  and 
let  this  Thersites  depart  safe  and  sound.  "  But  do  you," 
said  he,  "  you  other  ambassadors,  tell  the  Athenians  that 
those  who  say  such  things  are  much  more  arrogant  than 
those  who  hear  them  without  revenging  themselves." 

The  late  Emperor   Augustus   also   did  and  said  many 
memorable  things,  which  prove  that  he  was  not  under  the 
dominion  of  anger.     Timagenes,  the  historical  writer,  made 
some  remarks  upon  him,  his  wife,  and  his  whole  family : 
nor  did  his  jests  fall  to  the  ground,  for  nothing  spreads 
more  widely  or  is  more  in  people's  mouths  than  reckless 
wit.     Caesar  often  warned  him  to  be  less  audacious  in  his 
talk,  and  as  he  continued  to  offend,  forbade  him  his  house. 
Timagenes  after  this  passed  the  later  years  of  his  life  as 
the  guest  of  Asinius  Pollio,  and  was  the  favourite  of  the 
whole  city :  the  closing  of  Caesar  s  door  did  not  close  any 
other  door  against  him.     He  read  aloud  the  history  which 
he  wrote  after  this,  but  burned  the  books  which  contained 
the  doings  of  Augustus  Caesar.     He  was  at  enmity  with 
Caesar,  but  yet  no  one  feared  to  be  his  friend,  no  one  shrank 
from  him  as  though  he  were  blasted  by  lightning  :  although 
he  fell  from  so  high  a  place,  yet  some  one  was  found  to 
catch  him  in  his  lap.     Caesar,  I  say,  bore  this  with  patience, 
and  was  not  even  irritated  by  the  historian's  having  laid 
violent  hands  upon  his  own  glories    and   acts :  he  never 
complained  of  the  man  who  afforded  his  enemy  shelter,  but 
merely  said  to  Asinius    Pollio  "  You  are  keeping  a  wild 
beast:  "  then,  when  the  other  would  have  excused  his  con- 
duct, he  stopped  him,  and  said  "Enjoy,  my  Pollio,  enjoy 
his  friendship."     When   Pollio  said,  "  If  you   order  me, 
Caesar,  I  will    straightway    forbid    him    my  house,"    he 


CH.  XXV.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  143 

answered,  "  Do  you  think  that  I  am  likely  to  do  this,  after 
having  made  yon  friends  again  ?  "  for  formerly  Pollio  had 
been  angry  with  Timagenes,  and  ceased  to  be  angry  with 
him  for  no  other  reason  than  that  Caesar  began  to  be  so. 

XXIV.  Let  every  one,  then,  say  to  himself,  whenever  he 
is  provoked,  "  Am  I  more  powerful  than  Philip  ?  yet  he 
allowed  a  man  to  curse  him  with  impunity.  Have  I  more 
authority  in  my  own  house  than  the  Emperor  Augustus 
possessed  throughout  the  world  ?  yet  he  was  satisfied  with 
leaving  the  society  of  his  maligner.  Why  should  I  make 
my  slave  atone  by  stripes  and  manacles  for  having  an- 
swered me  too  loudly  or  having  put  on  a  stubborn  look, 
or  muttered  something  which  I  did  not  catch  ?  Who  am 
I,  that  it  should  be  a  crime  to  shock  my  ears  ?  Many  men 
have  forgiven  their  enemies :  shall  I  not  forgive  men  for 
being  lazy,  careless,  and  gossipping?"  We  ought  to  plead 
age  as  an  excuse  for  children,  sex  for  women,  freedom  for 
a  stranger,  familiarity  for  a  house-servant.  Is  this  his  first 
offence?  think  how  long  he  has  been  acceptable.  Has 
he  often  done  wrong,  and  in  many  other  cases  ?  then  let  us 
continue  to  bear  what  we  have  borne  so  long.  Is  he  a 
friend  ?  then  he  did  not  intend  to  do  it.  Is  he  an  enemy  ? 
then  in  doing  it  he  did  his  duty.  If  he  be  a  sensible  man, 
let  us  believe  his  excuses ;  if  a  fool,  let  us  grant  him 
pardon ;  whatever  he  may  be,  let  us  say  to  ourselves  on  his 
behalf,  that  even  the  wisest  of  men  are  often  in  fault,  that 
no  one  is  so  alert  that  his  carefulness  never  betrays  itself, 
that  no  one  is  of  so  ripe  a  judgment  that  his  serious  mind 
cannot  be  goaded  by  circumstances  into  some  hotheaded 
action,  that,  in  fine,  no  one,  however  much  he  may  fear  to 
give  offence,  can  help  doing  so  even  while  he  tries  to 
avoid  it. 

XXV.  As  it  is  a  consolation  to  a  humble  man  in  trouble 
that  the  greatest  are  subject  to  reverses  of  fortune,  and  a 
man  weeps  more  calmly  over  his  dead  son  in  the  corner  of 


144  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  Y. 

his  hovel  if  he  sees  a  piteons  ^  funeral  proceed  out  of  the 
palace  as  well ;  so  one  bears  injury  or  insult  more  calmly  if 
one  remembers  that  no  power  is  so  great  as  to  be  above 
the  reach  of  harm.  Indeed,  if  even  the  wisest  do  wrong, 
who  cannot  plead  a  good  excuse  for  his  faults  ?  Let  us 
look  back  upon  our  own  youth,  and  think  how  often  we 
then  were  too  slothful  in  our  duty,  too  impudent  in  our 
speech,  too  intemperate  in  our  cups.  Is  any  one  angry  ? 
then  let  us  give  him  enough  time  to  reflect  upon  what  he 
has  done,  and  he  will  correct  his  own  self.  But  suppose 
he  ought  to  pay  the  penalty  of  his  deeds  :  well,  that  is  no 
reason  why  we  should  act  as  he  does.  It  canot  be  doubted 
that  he  who  regards  his  tormentor  with  contempt  raises 
himself  above  the  common  herd  and  looks  down  upon 
them  from  a  loftier  position :  it  is  the  property  of  true 
magnanimity  not  to  feel  the  blows  which  it  may  receive.  So 
does  a  huge  wild  beast  turn  slowly  and  gaze  at  yelping  curs : 
so  does  the  wave  dash  in  vain  against  a  great  cliff.  The  man 
who  is  not  angry  remains  unshaken  by  injury :  he  who  is 
angry  has  been  moved  by  it.  He,  however,  whom  I  have 
described  as  being  placed  too  high  for  any  mischief  to 
reach  him,  holds  as  it  were  the  highest  good  in  his  arms  :  he 
can  reply,  not  only  to  any  man,  but  to  fortune  herself  :  "  Do 
what  you  will,  you  are  too  feeble  to  disturb  my  serenity  : 
this  is  forbidden  by  reason,  to  whom  I  have  entrusted  the 
guidance  of  my  life  :  to  become  angry  would  do  me  more 
harm  than  your  violence  can  do  me.  '  More  harm  ? '  say 
you.  Yes,  certainly :  I  know  how  much  injury  you  have 
done  me,  but  I  cannot  tell  to  what  excesses  anger  might 
not  carry  me." 

XXVI.  You  say,  "  I  cannot  endure  it :  injuries  are  hard 
to  bear."  You  lie ;  for  how  can  any  one  not  be  able  to  bear 
injury,  if  he  can  bear  to  be  angry  ?     Besides,  what  you 

^  Acerhum  =  cnt}f)ov ;  the  funeral  of  one  who  has  been  cut  oflF  in  the  flower 
of  his  youth. 


CH.  XXYI.]  OF  ANGER,   III.  145 

intend  to  do  is  to  endure  both  injury  and  anger.  Why  do 
you  bear  with  the  delirium  of  a  sick  man,  or  the  ravings  of 
a  madman,  or  the  impudent  blows  of  a  child  ?  Because,  of 
course,  they  evidently  do  not  know  what  they  are  doing : 
if  a  man  be  not  responsible  for  his  actions,  what  does  it 
matter  by  what  malady  he  became  so  :  the  plea  of  ignorance 
holds  equally  good  in  every  case.  "  What  then  ?"  say  you, 
"shall  he  not  be  punished  ?  "  He  will  be,  even  supposing  that 
you  do  not  wish  it :  for  the  greatest  punishment  for  having 
done  harm  is  the  sense  of  having  done  it,  and  no  one  is 
more  severely  punished  than  he  who  is  given  over  to  the 
punishment  of  remorse.  In  the  next  place,  we  ought  to  con- 
sider the  whole  state  of  mankind,  in  order  to  pass  a  just 
judgment  on  all  the  occurrences  of  life  :  for  it  is  unjust 
to  blame  individuals  for  a  vice  which  is  common  to  all. 
The  colour  of  an  ^thiop  is  not  remarkable  amongs  this  own 
people,  nor  is  any  man  in  Germany  ashamed  of  red  hair  rolled 
into  a  knot.  You  cannot  call  anything  peculiar  or  disgrace- 
ful in  a  particular  man  if  it  is  the  general  characteristic  of  his 
nation.  Now,  the  cases  which  I  have  quoted  are  defended 
only  by  the  usage  of  one  out-of-the-way  quarter  of  the  world  : 
see  now,  how  far  more  deserving  of  pardon  those  crimes 
are  which  are  spread  abroad  among  all  mankind.  We  all 
are  hasty  and  careless,  we  all  are  untrustworthy,  dissatis- 
fied, and  ambitious  :  nay,  why  do  I  try  to  hide  our  common 
wickedness  by  a  too  partial  description  ?  we  all  are  bad. 
Every  one  of  us  therefore  will  find  in  his  own  breast  the 
vice  which  he  blames  in  another.  Why  do  you  remark  how 
pale  this  man,  or  how  lean  that  man  is  ?  there  is  a  general 
pestilence.  Let  us  therefore  be  more  gentle  one  to  another  : 
we  are  bad  men,  living  among  bad  men :  there  is  only  one 
thing  which  can  afford  us  peace,  and  that  is  to  agree  to 
forgive  one  another.  "  This  man  has  already  injured  me," 
say  you,  "  and  I  have  not  yet  injured  him."  No,  but  you 
have  probably  injured  some  one  else,  and  you  will  injure 

L 


146  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

him  some  day.  Do  not  form  your  judgment  by  one  hour, 
or  one  day :  consider  the  whole  tendency  of  your  mind : 
even  though  you  have  done  no  evil,  yet  you  are  capable  of 
doing  it. 

XXVII.  How  far  better  is  it  to  heal  an  injury  than  to 
avenge  it  ?  Revenge  takes  up  much  time,  and  throws 
itself  in  the  way  of  many  injuries  while  it  is  smarting 
under  one.  We  all  retain  our  anger  longer  than  we  feel 
our  hurt :  how  far  better  it  were  to  take  the  opposite 
course  and  not  meet  one  mischief  by  another.  Would  any 
one  think  himself  to  be  in  his  perfect  mind  if  he  were  to 
return  kicks  to  a  mule  or  bites  to  a  dog  ?  "  These  crea- 
tures," you  say,  "  know  not  that  they  are  doing  wrong." 
Then,  in  the  first  place,  what  an  unjust  judge  you  must  be 
if  a  man  has  less  chance  of  gaining  your  forgiveness  than  a 
beast !  Secondly,  if  animals  are  protected  from  your  anger  by 
their  want  of  reason,  you  ought  to  treat  all  foolish  men  in  the 
like  manner :  for  if  a  man  has  that  mental  darkness  which 
excuses  all  the  wrong- doings  of  dumb  animals,  what  dif- 
ference does  it  make  if  in  other  respects  he  be  unlike  a 
dumb  animal  ?  He  has  sinned.  Well,  is  this  the  first  time, 
or  will  this  be  the  last  time  ?  Why,  you  should  not  believe 
him  even  if  he  said,  "  ITever  will  I  do  so  again."  He  will 
sin,  and  another  will  sin  against  him,  and  all  his  life  he 
will  wallow  in  wickedness.  Savagery  must  be  met  by 
kindness :  we  ought  to  use,  to  a  man  in  anger,  the  argu- 
ment which  is  so  effective  with  one  in  grief,  that  is, 
"  Shall  you  leave  off  this  at  some  time,  or  never  ?  If  you 
will  do  so  at  some  time,  how  better  is  it  that  you  should 
abandon  anger  than  that  anger  should  abandon  you  ?  Or, 
will  this  excitement  never  leave  you  ?  Do  you  see  to  what 
an  unquiet  life  you  condemn  yourself  ?  for  what  will  be  the 
life  of  one  who  is  always  swelling  with  rage?"  Add  to 
this,  that  after  you  have  worked  yourself  up  into  a  rage, 
and  have  from  time  to  time  renewed  the  censes  of  your 


CH.  XXVIII.]  OP   ANGER,   III.  147 

excitement,  yet  your  anger  will  depart  from  you  of  its  own 
accord,  and  time  will  sap  its  strength :  how  much  better 
then  is  it  that  it  should  be  overcome  by  you  than  by  itself  ? 
XXVIII.  If  you  are  angry,  you  will  quarrel  first  with 
this  man,  and  then  with  that :  first  with  slaves,  then  with 
freedmen :  first  with  parents,  then  with  children :  first 
with  acquaintances,  then  with  strangers :  for  there  are 
grounds  for  anger  in  every  case,  unless  your  mind  steps  in 
and  intercedes  with  you :  your  frenzy  will  drag  you  from 
one  place  to  another,  and  from  thence  to  elsewhere,  your 
madness  will  constantly  meet  with  newly-occurring  irritants, 
and  will  never  depart  from  you.  Tell  me,  miserable  man, 
what  time  you  will  have  for  loving  ?  0,  what  good  time  you 
are  wasting  on  an  evil  thing !  How  much  better  it  would  be 
to  win  friends,  and  disarm  enemies  :  to  serve  the  state,  or 
to  busy  oneself  with  one's  private  affairs,  rather  than  to 
cast  about  for  what  harm  you  can  do  to  somebody,  what 
wound  you  can  inflict  either  upon  his  social  position,  his 
fortune,  or  his  person,  although  you  cannot  succeed  in 
doing  so  without  a  struggle  and  risk  to  yourself,  even  if 
your  antagonist  be  inferior  to  you.  Even  supposing  that 
he  were  handed  over  to  you  in  chains,  and  that  you  were  at 
liberty  to  torture  him  as  much  as  you  please,  yet  even  then 
excessive  violence  in  striking  a  blow  often  causes  us  to  dislo- 
cate a  joint,  or  entangles  a  sinew  in  the  teeth  which  it  has 
broken.  Anger  makes  many  men  cripples,  or  invalids,  even 
when  it  meets  with  an  unresisting  victim  :  and  besides  this, 
no  creature  is  so  weak  that  it  can  be  destroyed  without  any 
danger  to  its  destroyer :  sometimes  grief,  sometimes  chance, 
puts  the  weakest  on  a  level  with  the  strongest.  What 
shall  we  say  of  the  fact  that  the  greater  part  of  the  things 
which  enrage  us  are  insults,  not  injuries  ?  It  makes  a  great 
difference  whether  a  man  thwarts  my  wishes  or  merely 
fails  to  carry  them  out,  whether  he  robs  me  or  does  not 
give  me  anything :  yet  we  count  it  all  the  same  whether  a 


148  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  Y, 

man  takes  anything  from  us  or  refuses  to  give  anything  to 
us,  whether  he  extinguishes  our  hope  or  defers  it,  whether 
his  object  be  to  hinder  us  or  to  help  himself,  whether  he 
acts  out  of  love  for  some  one  or  out  of  hatred  for  us. 
Some  men  are  bound  to  oppose  us  not  only  on  the  ground 
of  justice,  but  of  honour:  one  is  defending  his  father, 
another  his  brother,  another  his  country,  another  his 
friend :  yet  we  do  not  forgive  men  for  doing  what  we 
should  blame  them  for  not  doing;  nay,  though  one  can 
hardly  believe  it,  we  often  think  well  of  an  act,  and  ill  of 
the  man  who  did  it.  But,  by  Hercules,  a  great  and  just 
man  looks  with  respect  at  the  bravest  of  his  enemies,  and 
the  most  obstinate  defender  of  his  freedom  and  his  coun- 
try, and  wishes  that  he  had  such  a  man  for  his  own  coun- 
tryman and  soldier. 

XXIX.  It  is  shameful  to  hate  him  whom  you  praise : 
but  how  much  more  shameful  is  it  to  hate  a  man  for  some- 
thing for  which  he  deserves  to  be  pitied  ?  If  a  prisoner  of 
war,  who  has  suddenly  been  reduced  to  the  condition  of  a 
slave,  still  retains  some  remnants  of  liberty,  and  does  not 
run  nimbly  to  perform  foul  and  toilsome  tasks,  if,  having 
grown  slothful  by  long  rest,  he  cannot  run  fast  enough  to 
keep  pace  with  his  master's  horse  or  carriage,  if  sleep  over- 
powers him  when  weary  with  many  days  and  nights  of 
watching,  if  he  refuses  to  undertake  farm  work,  or  does  not 
do  it  heartily  when  brought  away  from  the  idleness  of  city 
service  and  put  to  hard  labour,  we  ought  to  make  a  dis- 
tinction between  whether  a  man  cannot  or  will  not  do  it : 
we  should  pardon  many  slaves,  if  we  began  to  judge  them 
before  we  began  to  be  angry  with  them  :  as  it  is,  however, 
we  obey  our  first  impulse,  and  then,  although  we  may 
prove  to  have  been  excited  about  mere  trifles,  yet  we  con- 
tinue to  be  angry,  lest  we  should  seem  to  have  begun  to  be 
angry  without  cause ;  and,  most  unjust  of  all,  the  injustice 
of  our  anger  makes  us  persist  in  it  all  the  more ;  for  we 


CH.  XXX.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  149 

nurse  it  and  inflame  it,  as  though  to  be  violently  angry 
proved  onr  anger  to  be  just. 

XXX.  How  much  better  is  it  to  observe  how  trifling, 
how  inoffensive  are  the  first  beginnings  of  anger  ?  You 
will  see  that  men  are  subject  to  the  same  influences  as 
dumb  animals  :  we  are  put  out  by  trumpery,  futile  matters. 
Bulls  are  excited  by  red  colour,  the  asp  raises  its  head  at  a 
shadow,  bears  or  lions  are  irritated  at  the  shaking  of  a  rag, 
and  all  creatures  who  are  naturally  fierce  and  wild  are 
alarmed  at  trifles.  The  same  thing  befalls  men  both  of 
restless  and  of  sluggish  disposition ;  they  are  seized  by 
suspicions,  sometimes  to  such  an  extent  that  they  call 
shght  benefits  injuries :  and  these  form  the  most  common 
and  certainly  the  most  bitter  subject  for  anger :  for  we 
become  angry  with  our  dearest  friends  for  having  bestowed 
less  upon  us  than  we  expected,  and  less  than  others  have 
received  from  them :  yet  there  is  a  remedy  at  hand  for  both 
these  grievances.  Has  he  favoured  our  rival  more  than 
ourselves  ?  then  let  us  enjoy  what  we  have  without  making 
any  comparisons.  A  man  will  never  be  well  off  to  whom  it  is 
a  torture  to  see  any  one  better  off  than  himself.  Have  I 
less  than  I  hoped  for  ?  well,  perhaps  I  hoped  for  more  than 
I  ought.  This  it  is  against  which  we  ought  to  be  espe- 
cially on  our  guard :  from  hence  arises  the  most  destruc- 
tive anger,  sparing  nothing,  not  €ven  the  holiest.  The 
Emperor  Julius  was  not  stabbed  by  so  many  enemies  as  by 
friends  whose  insatiable  hopes  he  had  not  satisfied.  He 
was  willing  enough  to  do  so,  for  no  one  ever  made  a  more 
generous  use  of  victory,  of  whose  fruits  he  kept  nothing 
for  himself  save  the  power  of  distributing  them  ;  but  how 
could  he  glut  such  unconscionable  appetites,  when  each  man 
coveted  as  much  as  any  one  man  could  possess  ?  This  was 
why  he  saw  his  fellow- soldiers  standing  round  his  chair 
with  drawn  swords,  Tillius  Cimber,  though  he  had  a 
short  time  before  been  the  keenest  defender  of  his  party, 


160  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V, 

and  others  who  only  became  Pompeians  after  Pompeius  was 
dead.  This  it  is  which  has  turned  the  arms  of  kings 
asrainst  them,  and  made  their  trustiest  followers  meditate 
the  death  of  him  for  whom  and  before  whom '  they  once 
would  have  been  glad  to  die. 

XXXI.  No  man  is  satisfied  with  his  own  lot  if  he  fixes  his 
attention  on  that  of  another :  and  this  leads  to  our  being 
angry  even  with  the  gods,  because  somebody  precedes  us, 
though  we  forget  of  how  many  we  take  precedence,  and  that 
when  a  man  envies  few  people,  he  must  be  followed  in  the 
background  by  a  huge  crowd  of  people  who  envy  him. 
Yet  so  churlish  is  human  nature,  that,  however  much  men 
may  have  received,  they  think  themselves  wronged  if  they 
are  able  to  receive  still  more.  "  He  gave  me  the  praetorship. 
Yes,  but  I  had  hoped  for  the  consulship.  He  bestowed  the 
twelve  axes  upon  me :  true,  but  he  did  not  make  me  a 
regular "  consul.  He  allowed  me  to  give  my  name  to  the 
year,  but  he  did  not  help  me  to  the  priesthood.  I  have 
been  elected  a  member  of  the  college  :  but  why  only  of  one  ? 
He  has  bestowed  upon  me  every  honour  that  the  state 
affords  :  yes,  but  he  has  added  nothing  to  my  private  for- 
tune. What  he  gave  me  he  was  obliged  to  give  to  some- 
body :  he  brought  out  nothing  from  his  own  pocket." 
Rather  than  speak  thus,  thank  him  for  what  you  have 
received  :  wait  for  the  rest,  and  be  thankful  that  you  are  not 
yet  too  full  to  contain  more  ;  there  is  a  pleasure  in  having 
something  left  to  hope  for.  Are  you  preferred  to  every 
one?  then  rejoice  at  holding  the  first  place  in  the  thoughts 
of  yonr  friend.  Or  are  many  others  preferred  before  you  ? 
then  think  how  many  more  are  below  you  than  there  are 

^  In  point  of  time. 

^  Consul  ordinarius,  a  regular  consul,  one  who  administered  in  office 
from  the  first  of  January,  in  opposition  to  constd  suffectus,  one  chosen 
in  the  course  of  the  je^v  in  the  place  of  one  who  had  died.  The  consul 
ordinarius  gave  his  name  to  the  year. 


CH.  XXXIII.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  161 

above  you.  Do  you  ask,  what  is  your  greatest  fault  ?  It 
is,  that  you  keep  your  accounts  wrongly :  you  set  a  high 
value  upon  what  you  give,  and  a  low  one  upon  what  you 
receive. 

XXXII.  Let  different  qualities  in  different  people  keep 
us  from  quarrelling  with  them  :  let  us  fear  to  be  angry  with 
some,  feel  ashamed  of  being  angry  with  others,  and  disdain 
to  be  angry  with  others.  We  do  a  fine  thing,  indeed,  when 
we  send  a  wretched  slave  to  the  workhouse!  Why  are 
we  in  such  a  hurry  to  flog  him  at  once,  to  break  his 
legs  straightway?  we  shall  not  lose  our  boasted  power 
if  we  defer  its  exercise.  Let  us  wait  for  the  time  when 
we  ourselves  can  give  orders :  at  present  we  speak  under 
constraint  from  anger.  When  it  has  passed  away  we 
shall  see  what  amount  of  damage  has  been  done;  for 
this  is  what  we  are  especially  liable  to  make  mistakes 
about :  we  use  the  sword,  and  capital  punishment,  and  we 
appoint  chains,  imprisonment,  and  starvation  to  punish 
a  crime  which  deserves  only  flogging  with  a  light  scourge. 
"In  what  way,"  say  you,  "do  you  bid  us  look  at  those 
things  by  which  we  think  ourselves  injured,  that  we  may 
see  how  paltry,  pitiful,  and  childish  they  are  ?  "  Of  all 
things  I  would  charge  you  to  take  to  yourself  a  magnani- 
mous spirit,  and  behold  how  low  and  sordid  all  these  matters 
are  about  which  we  squabble  and  run  to  and  fro  till  we  are 
out  of  breath;  to  any  one  who  entertains  any  lofty  and 
magnificent  ideas,  they  are  not  worthy  of  a  thought. 

XXXIII.  The  greatest  hullabaloo  is  about  money :  this  it 
is  which  wearies  out  the  law-courts,  sows  strife  between  father 
and  son,  concocts  poisons,  and  gives  swords  to  murderers 
just  as  to  soldiers ;  it  is  stained  with  our  blood :  on  account  of 
it  husbands  and  wives  wrangle  all  night  long,  crowds  press 
round  the  bench  of  magistrates,  kings  rage  and  plunder, 
and  overthrow  communities  which  it  has  taken  the  labour 
of  centuries   to  build,  that  they  may  seek  for  gold  and 


152  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

silver  in  the  ashes  of  their  cities.  Do  you  like  to  look  at 
your  money-bags  lying  in  the  corner  ?  it  is  for  these  that 
men  shout  till  their  eyes  start  from  their  heads,  that  the 
law-courts  ring  with  the  din  of  trials,  and  that  jurymen 
brought  from  great  distances  sit  to  decide  which  man's 
covetousness  is  the  more  equitable.  What  shall  we  say  if 
it  be  not  even  for  a  bag  of  money,  but  for  a  handful  of 
coppers  or  a  shilling  scored  up  by  a  slave  that  some  old  man, 
soon  to  die  without  an  heir,  bursts  with  rage  ?  what  if 
it  be  an  invalid  money-lender  whose  feet  are  distorted  by 
the  gout,  and  who  can  no  longer  use  his  hands  to  count 
with,  who  calls  for  his  interest  of  one  thousandth  a  month,^ 
and  by  his  sureties  demands  his  pence  even  during  the 
paroxysms  of  his  disease  ?  If  you  were  to  bring  to  me  all 
the  money  from  all  our  mines,  which  we  are  at  this  moment 
sinking,  if  you  were'to  bring  to-night  all  that  is  concealed 
in  hoards,  where  avarice  returns  money  to  the  earth  from 
whence  it  came,  and  pity  that  it  ever  was  dug  out — all  that 
niass  I  should  not  think  worthy  to  cause  a  wrinkle  on  the 
brow  of  a  good  man.  What  ridicule  those  things  deserve 
which  bring  tears  into  our  eyes  ! 

XXXIV.  Come  now,  let  us  enumerate  the  other  causes 
of  anger :  they  are  food,  drink,  and  the  showy  apparatus 
connected  with  them,  words,  insults,  disrespectful  move- 
ments of  the  body,  suspicions,  obstinate  cattle,  lazy  slaves, 
and  spiteful  construction  put  upon  other  men's  words, 
so  that  even  the  gift  of  language  to  mankind  becomes 
reckoned  among  the  wrongs  of  nature.  Believe  me,  the 
things  which  cause  us  such  great  heat  are  trifles,  the  sort 
of  things  that  chilren  fight  and  squabble  over  :  there  is 
nothing  serious,  nothing  important  in  all  that  we  do  with 
such  gloomy  faces.  It  is,  I  repeat,  the  setting  a  great  value 
on  trifles  that  is  the  cause  of  your  anger  and  madness.  This 

^  It  seems  inconceivable  that  so  small  an  interest,  li  per  cent,  per  an., 
can  be  meant. 


CH.  XXXV.]  OF   ANGER,    IIT.  153 

man  wanted  to  rob  me  of  my  inheritance,  that  one  has  brought 
a  charge  against  me  before  persons^  whom  I  had  long  courted 
with  great  expectations,  that  one  has  coveted  mj  mistress. 
A  wish  for  the  same  things,  which  ought  to  have  been  a  bond 
of  friendship,  becomes  a  source  of  quarrels  and  hatred.  A 
narrow  path  causes  quarrels  among  those  who  pass  up  and 
down  it ;  a  wide  and  broadly  spread  road  may  be  used  by 
whole  tribes  without  jostling.  Those  objects  of  desire  of 
yours  cause  strife  and  disputes  among  those  who  covet  the 
same  things,  because  they  are  petty,  and  cannot  be  given 
to  one  man  without  being  taken  away  from  another. 

XXXY.  You  are  indignant  at  being  answered  back  by 
your  slave,  your  freedman,  your  wife,  or  your  client :  and 
then  you  complain  of  the  state  having  lost  the  freedom 
which  you  have  destroyed  in  your  own  house  :  then  again 
if  he  is  silent  when  you  question  him,  you  call  it  sullen 
obstinacy.  Let  him  both  speak  and  be  silent,  and  laugh 
too.  "  In  the  presence  of  his  master  ?  "  you  ask.  Nay,  say 
rather  "in  the  presence  of  the  house-father."  Why  do 
you  shout  ?  why  do  you  storm  ?  why  do  you  in  the  middle 
of  dinner  call  for  a  whip,  because  the  slaves  are  talking, 
because  a  crowd  as  large  as  a  public  meeting  is  not  as 
silent  as  the  wilderness  ?  You  have  ears,  not  merely  that 
you  may  listen  to  musical  sounds,  softly  and  sweetly  drawn 
out  and  harmonized  :  you  ought  to  hear  laughter  and  weep- 
ing, coaxing  and  quarrelling,  joy  and  sorrow,  the  human 
voice  and  the  roaring  and  barking  of  animals.  Miserable 
one  !  why  do  you  shudder  at  the  noise  of  a  slave,  at  the 
rattling  of  brass  or  the  banging  of  a  door  ?  you  cannot 
help  hearing  the  thunder,  however  refined  you  may  be. 
You  may  apply  these  remarks  about  your  ears  with  equal 
truth  to  your  eyes,  which  are  just  as  dainty,  if  they 
have  been  badly  schooled :  they  are  shocked  at  stains  and 

^   Captatis,  Madvig.  Adv.  II.  394. 


154  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

dirt,  at  silver  plate  which  is  not  sufficiently  bright,  or  at  a 
pool  whose  water  is  not  clear  down  to  the  bottom.  Those 
same  eyes  which  can  only  endure  to  see  the  most  variegated 
marble,  and  that  which  has  just  been  scoured  bright,  which 
will  look  at  no  table  whose  wood  is  not  marked  with  a  net- 
work of  veining,  and  which  at  home  are  loth  to  tread  upon 
anything  that  is  not  more  precious  than  gold,  will,  when 
out  of  doors,  gaze  most  calmly  upon  rough  and  miry  paths, 
will  see  unmoved  that  the  greater  number  of  persons  that 
meet  them  are  shabbily  dressed,  and  that  the  walls  of  the 
houses  are  rotten,  full  of  cracks,  and  uneven.  What,  then, 
can  be  the  reason  that  they  are  not  distressed  out  of  doors 
by  sights  which  would  shock  them  in  their  own  home,  un- 
less it  be  that  their  temper  is  placid  and  long-suffering  in 
one  case,  sulky  and  fault-finding  in  the  other  ? 

XXXYI.  All  our  senses  should  be  educated  into  strength : 
they  are  naturally  able  to  endure  much,  provided  that  the 
spirit  forbears  to  spoil  them.  The  spirit  ought  to  be 
brought  up  for  examination  daily.  It  was  the  custom  of 
Sextius  when  the  day  was  over,  and  he  had  betaken  him- 
self to  rest,  to  inquire  of  his  spirit :  "  What  bad  habit  of 
yours  have  you  cured  to-day  ?  what  vice  have  you  checked  ? 
in  what  respect  are  you  better?  "  Anger  will  cease,  and 
become  more  gentle,  if  it  knows  that  every  day  it  will  have 
to  appear  before  the  judgment  seat.  What  can  be  more 
admirable  than  this  fashion  of  discussing  the  whole  of  the 
day's  events  ?  how  sweet  is  the  sleep  which  follows  this 
self-examination  ?  how  calm,  how  sound,  and  careless  is  it 
when  our  spirit  has  either  received  praise  or  reprimand, 
and  when  our  secret  inquisitor  and  censor  has  made  his 
report  about  our  morals  ?  I  make  use  of  this  privilege,  and 
daily  plead  my  cause  before  myself :  when  the  lamp  is  taken 
out  of  my  sight,  and  my  wife,  who  knows  my  habit,  has 
ceased  to  talk,  I  pass  the  whole  day  in  review  before  myself, 
and  repeat  all  that  I  have  said  and  done  :  I  conceal  nothing 


CH.  XXXYII.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  155 

from  myself,  and  omit  nothing  :  for  why  should  I  be  afraid 
of  any  of  my  shortcomings,  when  it  is  in  my  power  to  say, 
"  I  pardon  you  this  time :  see  that  you  never  do  that  any 
more  ?  In  that  dispute  you  spoke  too  contentiously  :  do  not 
for  the  future  argue  with  ignorant  people :  those  who  have 
never  been  taught  are  unwilling  to  learn.  You  repri- 
manded that  man  with  more  freedom  than  you  ought,  and 
consequently  you  have  offended  him«instead  of  amending 
his  ways :  in  dealing  with  other  cases  of  the  kind,  you 
should  look  carefully,  not  only  to  the  truth  of  what  you 
say,  but  also  whether  the  person  to  whom  you  speak  can 
bear  to  be  told  the  truth."  A  good  man  delights  in  re- 
ceiving advice :  all  the  worst  men  are  the  most  impatient 
of  guidance. 

XXXVII.  At  the  dinner-table  some  jokes  and  sayings 
intended  to  give  you  pain  have  been  directed  against  you  : 
avoid  feasting  with  low  people.  Those  who  are  not  modest 
even  when  sober  become  much  more  recklessly  impudent 
after  drinking.  You  have  seen  your  friend  in  a  rage  with 
the  porter  of  some  lawyer  or  rich  man,  because  he  has  sent 
him  back  when  about  to  enter,  and  you  yourself  on  behalf 
of  your  friend  have  been  in  a  rage  with  the  meanest  of 
slaves.  Would  you  then  be  angry  with  a  chained  house- 
dog ?  Why,  even  he,  after  a  long  bout  of  barking,  becomes 
gentle  if  you  offer  him  food.  So  draw  back  and  smile ; 
for  the  moment  your  porter  fancies  himself  to  be  somebody, 
because  he  guards  a  door  which  is  beset  by  a  crowd  of 
litigants ;  for  the  moment  he  who  sits  within  is  prosperous 
and  happy,  and  thinks  that  a  street-door  through  which  it 
is  hard  to  gain  entrance  is  the  mark  of  a  rich  and  powerful 
man ;  he  knows  not  that  the  hardest  door  of  all  to  open  is 
that  of  the  prison.  Be  prepared  to  submit  to  much.  Is 
any  one  surprised  at  being  cold  in  winter  ?  at  being  sick  at 
sea  ?  or  at  being  jostled  in  the  street  ?  The  mind  is  strong 
enough  to  bear  those  evils  for  which  it  is  prepared.    When 


156  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  V. 

you  are  not  given  a  sufficiently  distinguished  place  at  table 
you  have  begun  to  be  angry  with  your  fellow-guests,  with 
your  host,  and  with  him  who  is  preferred  above  you. 
Idiot !  What  difference  can  it  make  what  part  of  the 
couch  you  rest  upon  ?  Can  a  cushion  give  you  honour  or 
take  it  away  ?  You  have  looked  askance  at  somebody 
because  he  has  spoken  slightingly  of  your  talents  ;  will  you 
apply  this  rule  to  yourself  ?  If  so,  Ennius,  whose  poetry 
you  do  not  care  for,  would  have  hated  you.  Hortensius,  if 
you  had  found  fault  with  his  speeches,  would  have  quar- 
relled with  you,  and  Cicero,  if  you  had  laughed  at  his 
poetry,  would  have  been  your  enemy.  A  candidate  for 
office,  will  you  resent  men's  votes  ? 

XXXVIII.  Some  one  has  offered  you  an  insult  ?  Not 
a  greater  one,  probably,  than  was  offered  to  the  Stoic  phi- 
losopher Diogenes,  in  whose  face  an  insolent  young  man 
spat  just  when  he  was  lecturing  upon  anger.  He  bore  it 
mildly  and  wisely.  "  I  am  not  angry,"  said  he,  "  but  I  am 
not  sure  that  I  ought  not  to  be  angry."  Yet  how  much 
better  did  our  Cato  behave  ?  When  he  was  pleading,  one 
Lentulus,  whom  our  fathers  remember  as  a  demagogue 
and  passionate  man,  spat  all  the  phlegm  he  could  muster 
upon  his  forehead.  Cato  wiped  his  face,  and  said,  "  Len- 
tulus, I  shall  declare  to  all  the  world  that  men  are  mis- 
taken when  they  say  that  you  are  wanting  in  cheek." 

XXXIX.  We  have  now  succeeded,  my  Novatus,  in  pro- 
perly regulating  our  own  minds  :  they  either  do  not  feel 
anger  or  are  above  it :  let  us  next  see  how  we  may  soothe 
the  wrath  of  others,  for  we  do  not  only  wish  to  be  whole, 
but  to  heal. 

You  should  not  attempt  to  allay  the  first  burst  of  anger 
by  words  :  it  is  deaf  and  frantic  :  we  must  give  it  scope  ; 
our  remedies  will  only  be  effective  when  it  slackens.  We 
do  not  meddle  with  men's  eyes  when  they  are  swollen, 
because  we  should  only  irritate   their   hard   stiffness  by 


CH.  XL.]  OF   ANGER,    III.  157 

touching  them,  nor  do  we  try  to  cure  other  diseases  when 
at  their  height :  the  best  treatment  in  the  first  stage  of 
illness  is  rest.  "  Of  how  very  little  value,"  say  you,  "  is 
your  remedy,  if  it  appeases  anger  which  is  subsiding  of  its 
own  accord  ?  "  In  the  first  place,  I  answer,  it  makes  it 
end  quicker:  in  the  next,  it  prevents  a  relapse.  It  can 
render  harmless  even  the  violent  impulse  which  it  dares 
not  soothe :  it  will  put  out  of  the  way  all  weapons  which 
might  be  used  for  revenge  :  it  will  pretend  to  be  angry,  in 
order  that  its  advice  may  have  more  weight  as  coming 
from  an  assistant  and  comrade  in  grief.  It  will  invent 
delays,  and  postpone  immediate  punishment  while  a  greater 
one  is  being  sought  for  :  it  will  use  every  artifice  to  give 
the  man  a  respite  from  his  frenzy.  If  his  anger  be  un- 
usually strong,  it  will  inspire  him  with  some  irresistible 
feeling  of  shame  or  of  fear :  if  weak,  it  will  make  use  of 
conversation  on  amusing  or  novel  subjects,  and  by  play- 
ing upon  his  curiosity  lead  him  to  forget  his  passion.  We 
are  told  that  a  physician,  who  was  forced  to  cure  the  king's 
daughter,  and  could  not  without  using  the  knife,  conveyed 
a  lancet  to  her  swollen  breast  concealed  under  the  sponge 
with  which  he  was  fomenting  it.  The  same  girl,  who  would 
have  shrunk  from  the  remedy  if  he  had  applied  it  openly, 
bore  the  pain  because  she  did  not  expect  it.  Some  diseases 
can  only  be  cured  by  deceit. 

XL.  To  one  class  of  men  you  will  say,  "  Beware,  lest 
your  anger  give  pleasure  to  your  foes  :  "  to  the  other, 
"  Beware  lest  your  greatness  of  mind  and  the  reputation  it 
bears  among  most  people  for  strength  become  impaired. 
I  myself,  by  Hercules,  am  scandalized  at  your  treatment 
and  am  grieved  beyond  measure,  but  we  must  wait  for  a 
proper  opportunity.  He  shall  pay  for  what  he  has  done  ; 
be  well  assured  of  that :  when  you  are  able  you  shall  return 
it  to  him  with  interest."  To  reprove  a  man  when  he  is 
angry  is  to  add  to  his  anger  by  being  angry  oneself.     You 


158  .  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  Y. 

should  approach  him  in  different  ways  and  in  a  compliant 
fashion,  nnless  perchance  you  be  so  great  a  personage  that 
you  can  quash  his  anger,  as  the  Emperor  Augustus  did 
when  he  was  dining  with  Yedius  Pollio.^  One  of  the  slaves 
had  broken  a  crystal  goblet  of  his  :  Yedius  ordered  him 
to  be  led  away  to  die,  and  that  too  in  no  common  fashion  : 
he  ordered  him  to  be  thrown  to  feed  the  muraenae,  some 
of  which  fish,  of  great  size,  he  kept  in  a  tank.  Who  would 
not  think  that  he  did  this  out  of  luxury  ?  but  it  was  out  of 
cruelty.  The  boy  slipped  through  the  hands  of  those  who 
tried  to  seize  him,  and  flung  himself  at  Caesar's  feet  in 
order  to  beg  for  nothing  more  than  that  he  might  die  in 
some  different  way,  and  not  be  eaten.  Caesar  was  shocked 
at  this  novel  form  of  cruelty,  and  ordered  him  to  be  let  go, 
and,  in  his  place,  all  the  crystal  ware  which  he  saw  before 
him  to  be  broken,  and  the  tank  to  be  filled  up.  This 
was  the  proper  way  for  Caesar  to  reprove  his  friend  : 
he  made  a  good  use  of  his  power.  What  are  you,  that 
when  at  dinner  you  order  men  to  be  put  to  death,  and 
mangled  by  an  unheard-of  form  of  torture  ?  Are  a  man's 
bowels  to  be  torn  asunder  because  your  cup  is  broken  ? 
You  must  think  a  great  deal  of  yourself,  if  even  when 
the  emperor  is  present  you  order  men  to  be  executed. 

XLI.  If  any  one's  power  is  so  great  that  he  can  treat 
anger  with  the  tone  of  a  superior  let  him  crush  it  out  of 
existence,  but  only  if  it  be  of  the  kind  of  which  I  have  just 
spoken,  fierce,  inhuman,  bloodthirsty,  and  incurable  save 

by  fear  of  something  more  powerful  than  itself 

.  .  .  .  let  us  give  the  mind  that  peace  which  is  given 
by  constant  meditation  upon  wholesome  maxims,  by  good 
actions,  and  by  a  mind  directed  to  the  pursuit  of  honour 
alone.  Let  us  set  our  own  conscience  fully  at  rest,  but 
make  no  efforts  to  gain  credit  for  ourselves  :    so  long  as  we 

^  See  "On  Clemency,"  i.  18,  2. 


CH.  XLII,]  OF   ANGER,    III.  159 

deserve  well,  let  us  be  satisfied,  even  if  we  should  be  ill  spoken 
of.  "  But  the  common  herd  admires  spirited  actions,  and 
bold  men  are  held  in  honour,  while  quiet  ones  are  thought  to 
be  indolent."  True,  at  first  sight  they  may  appear  to  be  so  : 
but  as  soon  as  the  even  tenor  of  their  life  proves  that  this 
quietude  arises  not  from  dullness  but  from  peace  of  mind, 
then  that  same  populace  respects  and  reverences  them. 
There  is,  then,  nothing  useful  in  that  hideous  and  destruc- 
tive passion  of  anger,  but  on  the  contrary,  every  kind  of 
evil,  fire  and  sword.  Anger  tramples  self-restraint  under- 
foot, steeps  its  hands  in  slaughter,  scatters  abroad  the 
limbs  of  its  children  :  it  leaves  no  place  unsoiled  by  crime, 
it  has  no  thoughts  of  glory,  no  fears  of  disgrace,  and  when 
once  anger  has  hardened  into  hatred,  no  amendment  is 
possible. 

XLII.  Let  us  be  free  from  this  evil,  let  us  clear  our 
minds  of  it,  and  extirpate  root  and  branch  a  passion  which 
grows  again  wherever  the  smallest  particle  of  it  finds  a 
resting-place.  Let  us  not  moderate  anger,  but  get  rid  of 
it  altogether  :  what  can  moderation  have  to  do  with  an 
evil  habit?  We  shall  succeed  in  doing  this,  if  only  we 
exert  ourselves.  Nothing  will  be  of  greater  service  than 
to  bear  in  mind  that  we  are  mortal :  let  each  man  say  to 
himself  and  to  his  neighbour,  "  Why  should  we,  as  though 
we  were  born  to  live  for  ever,  waste  our  tiny  span  of  life  in 
declaring  anger  against  any  one  ?  why  should  days,  which 
we  might  spend  in  honourable  enjoyment,  be  misapplied 
in  grieving  and  torturing  others  ?  Life  is  a  matter  which 
does  not  admit  of  waste,  and  we  have  no  spare  time  to 
throw  away.  Why  do  we  rush  into  the  fray  ?  why  do  we 
go  out  of  our  way  to  seek  disputes  ?  why  do  we,  forgetful 
of  the  weakness  of  our  nature,  undertake  mighty  feuds, 
and,  frail  though  we  be,  summon  up  all  our  strength  to 
cut  down  other  men  ?  Ere  long,  fever  or  some  other  bodily 
ailment  will  make  us  unable  to  carry  on  this  warfare  of 


160  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  V. 

hatred  whicli  we  so  implacably  wage :  death  will  soon  part 
the  most  vigorous  pair  of  combatants.  Why  do  we  make 
disturbances  and  spend  our  lives  in  rioting  ?  fate  hangs 
over  our  heads,  scores  up  to  our  account  the  days  as  they 
pass,  and  is  ever  drawing  nearer  and  nearer.  The  time 
which  you  have  marked  for  the  death  of  another  perhaps 
includes  your  own." 

XLIII.  Instead  of  acting  thus,  why  do  you  not  rather 
draw  together  what  there  is  of  your  short  life,  and  keep  it 
peaceful  for  others  and  for  yourself  ?  why  do  you  not 
rather  make  yourself  beloved  by  every  one  while  you  live, 
and  regretted  by  every  one  when  you  die  ?  Why  do  you 
wish  to  tame  that  man's  pride,  because  he  takes  too  lofty 
a  tone  with  you  ?  why  do  you  try  with  all  your  might  to 
crush  that  other  who  snaps  and  snarls  at  you,  a  low  and 
contemptible  wretch,  but  spiteful  and  offensive  to  his 
betters  ?  Master,  why  are  you  angry  with  your  slave  ? 
Slave,  why  are  you  angry  with  your  master  ?  Client,  why 
are  you  angry  with  your  patron  ?  Patron,  why  are  you 
angry  with  your  client  ?  Wait  but  a  little  while.  See, 
here  comes  death,  who  will  make  you  all  equals.  We 
often  see  at  a  morning  performance  in  the  arena  a  battle 
between  a  bull  and  a  bear,  fastened  together,  in  which  the 
victor,  after  he  has  torn  the  other  to  pieces,  is  himself 
slain.  We  do  just  the  same  thing :  we  worry  some  one 
who  is  connected  with  us,  although  the  end  of  both  victor 
and  vanquished  is  at  hand,  and  that  soon.  Let  us  rather 
pass  the  little  remnant  of  our  lives  in  peace  and  quiet  : 
may  no  one  loathe  us  when  we  lie  dead.  A  quarrel  is 
often  brought  to  an  end  by  a  cry  of  "  Fire  !  "  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, and  the  appearance  of  a  wild  beast  parts  the 
highwayman  from  the  traveller:  men  have  no  leisure  to 
battle  with  minor  evils  when  menaced  by  some  overpower- 
ing terror.  What  have  we  to  do  with  fighting  and  ambus- 
cades ?  do  you  want  anything  more  than  death  to  befall 


CH.  XLIII,]  OF   ANGER,  III.  161 

him  with  whom  you  are  angry  ?  well,  even  though  you  sit 
quiet,  he  will  be  sure  to  die.  You  waste  your  pains  :  you 
want  to  do  what  is  certain  to  be  done.  You  say,  "  I  do 
not  wish  necessarily  to  kill  him,  but  to  punish  him  by  exile, 
or  public  disgrace,  or  loss  of  property."  I  can  more  easily 
pardon  one  who  wishes  to  give  his  enemy  a  wound  than 
one  who  wishes  to  give  him  a  blister  ;  for  the  latter  is  not 
only  bad,  but  petty-minded.  Whether  you  are  thinking  of 
extreme  or  slighter  punishments,  how  very  short  is  the 
time  during  which  either  your  victim  is  tortured  or  you 
enjoy  an  evil  pleasure  in  another's  pain  ?  This  breath 
that  we  hold  so  dear  will  soon  leave  us  :  in  the  meantime, 
while  we  draw  it,  while  we  live  among  human  beings,  let 
us  practise  humanity :  let  us  not  be  a  terror  or  a  danger 
to  any  one.  Let  us  keep  our  tempers  in  spite  of  losses, 
wrongs,  abuse  or  sarcasm,  and  let  us  endure  with  magna- 
nimity our  shortlived  troubles  :  while  we  are  considering 
what  is  due  to  ourselves,  as  the  saying  is,  and  worrying 
ourselves,  death  will  be  upon  us. 


162 


THE    SIXTH   BOOK   OF  THE   DIALOGUES 

OF    L.    ANNAEUS    SENECA, 

ADDRESSED  TO  MARCIA. 

OF   CONSOLATION. 


T^ID  I  not  know,  Marcia,  that  you  have  as  little  of  a 
^-^  woman's  weakness  of  mind  as  of  her  other  vices,  and 
that  yonr  life  was  regarded  as  a  pattern  of  antique  virtue, 
I  should  not  have  dared  to  combat  your  grief,  which  is 
one  that  many  men  fondly  nurse  and  embrace,  nor  should 
I  have  conceived  the  hope  of  persuading  you  to  hold  for- 
tune blameless,  having  to  plead  for  her  at  such  an  unfa- 
vorable time,  before  so  partial  a  judge,  and  against  such 
an  odious  charge.  I  derive  confidence,  however,  from 
the  proved  strength  of  your  mind,  and  your  virtue,  which 
has  been  proved  by  a  severe  test.  All  men  know  how 
well  you  behaved  towards  your  father,  whom  you  loved  as 
dearly  as  your  children  in  all  respects,  save  that  you  did  not 
wish  him  to  survive  you :  indeed,  for  all  that  I  know  you 
may  have  wished  that  also :  for  great  affection  ventures  to 
break  some  of  the  golden  rules  of  life.  You  did  all  that 
lay  in  your  power  to  avert  the  death  of  your  father,  Aulus 
Cremutius  Cordus  ;^  but  when  it  became  clear  that,  sur- 
rounded as  he  was  by  the  myrmidons  of  Sejanus,  there 
was  no  other  way  of  escape  from  slavery,  you  did  not 
»  See  MerivaJe's  "  History  of  the  Romans  under  the  Empire,"  ch.  xlv. 


CH.  I.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  163 

indeed  approve  of  his  resolution,  but  gave  up  all  attempts 
to  oppose  it ;  you  shed  tears  openly,  and  choked  down  your 
sobs,  yet  did  not  screen  them  behind  a  smiling  face ;  and 
you  did  all  this  in  the  present  century,  when  not  to  be 
unnatural  towards  one's  parents  is  considered  the  height 
of  filial  affection.  "When  the  changes  of  our  times  gave 
you  an  opportunity,  you  restored  to  the  use  of  man  that 
genius  of  your  father  for  which  he  had  suffered,  and 
made  him  in  real  truth  immortal  by  publishing  as  an 
eternal  memorial  of  him  those  books  which  that  bravest  of 
men  had  written  with  his  own  blood.  You  have  done  a 
great  service  to  Roman  literature  :  a  large  part  of  Cordus's 
books  had  been  burned ;  a  great  service  to  posterity, 
who  will  receive  a  true  account  of  events,  which  cost 
its  author  so  dear ;  and  a  great  service  to  himself,  whose 
memory  flourishes  and  ever  will  flourish,  as  long  as  men 
set  any  value  upon  the  facts  of  Roman  history,  as  long 
as  any  one  lives  who  wishes  to  review  the  deeds  of  our 
fathers,  to  know  what  a  true  Roman  was  like — one  who  still 
remained  unconquered  when  all  other  necks  were  broken  in 
to  receive  the  yoke  of  Sejanus,  one  who  was  free  in  every 
thought,  feeling,  and  act.  By  Hercules,  the  state  would 
have  sustained  a  great  loss  if  you  had  not  brought  him 
forth  from  the  oblivion  to  which  his  two  splendid  qualities, 
eloquence  and  independence,  had  consigned  him :  he  is  now 
read,  is  popular,  is  received  into  men's  hands  and  bosoms, 
and  fears  no  old  age  :  but  as  for  those  who  butchered  him, 
before  long  men  will  cease  to  speak  even  of  their  crimes, 
.  the  only  things  by  which  they  are  remembered.  This 
greatness  of  mind  in  you  has  forbidden  me  to  take  into 
consideration  your  sex  or  your  face,  still  clouded  by  the 
sorrow  by  which  so  many  years  ago  it  was  suddenly  over- 
cast. See ;  I  shall  do  nothing  underhand,  nor  try  to  steal 
away  your  sorrows  :  I  have  reminded  you  of  old  hurts,  and 
t©  prove  that  your  present  wound  may  be  healed,  I  have 


164  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [BK.  VI. 

shown  you  the  scar  of  one  which  was  equally  severe.  Let 
others  use  soft  measures  and  caresses ;  I  have  determined 
to  do  battle  with  your  grief,  and  I  will  dry  those  weary 
and  exhausted  eyes,  which  already,  to  tell  you  the  truth, 
are  weeping  more  from  habit  than  from  sorrow.  I  will 
effect  this  cure,  if  possible,  with  your  goodwill :  if  you 
disapprove  of  my  efforts,  or  dislike  them,  then  you  must 
continue  to  hug  and  fondle  the  grief  which  you  have 
adopted  as  the  survivor  of  your  son.  What,  I  pray  you,  is 
to  be  the  end  of  it  ?  All  means  have  been  tried  in  vain  :  the 
consolations  of  your  friends,  who  are  weary  of  offering 
them,  and  the  influence  of  great  men  who  are  related  to 
you :  literature,  a  taste  which  your  father  enjoyed  and 
which  you  have  inherited  from  him,  now  finds  your  ears 
closed,  and  affords  you  but  a  futile  consolation,  which 
scarcely  engages  your  thoughts  for  a  moment.  Even  time 
itself,  nature's  greatest  remedy,  which  quiets  the  most  bitter 
grief,  loses  its  power  with  you  alone.  Three  years  have 
already  passed,  and  still  your  grief  has  lost  none  of  its  first 
poignancy,  but  renews  and  strengthens  itself  day  by  day, 
and  has  now  dwelt  so  long  with  you  that  it  has  acquired  a 
domicile  in  your  mind,  and  actually  thinks  that  it  would 
be  base  to  leave  it.  All  vices  sink  into  our  whole  being, 
if  we  do  not  crush  them  before  they  gain  a  footing ;  and  in 
like  manner  these  sad,  pitiable,  and  discordant  feelings  end 
by  feeding  upon  their  own  bitterness,  until  the  unhappy 
mind  takes  a  sort  of  morbid  delight  in  grief.  I  should 
have  liked,  therefore,  to  have  attempted  to  effect  this  cure 
in  the  earliest  stages  of  the  disorder,  before  its  force  was 
fully  developed;  it  might  have  been  checked  by  milder 
remedies,  but  now  that  it  has  been  confirmed  by  time  it 
cannot  be  beaten  without  a  hard  struggle.  In  like  manner, 
wounds  heal  easily  when  the  blood  is  fresh  upon  them : 
they  can  then  be  cleared  out  and  brought  to  the  surface, 
and  admit  of  being  probed  by  the  finger:  when  disease 


CH.  II.]  .-OF   CONSOLATION.  165 

has  turned  them  into  malignant  ulcers,  their  cure  is  more 
difficult.  I  cannot  now  influence  so  strong  a  grief  by  polite 
and  mild  measures  :  it  must  be  broken  down  by  force. 

II.  I  am  aware  that  all  who  wish  to  give  any  one  advice 
begin  with  precepts,  and  end  with  examples :  but  it  is 
sometimes  useful  to  alter  this  fashion,  for  we  must  deal 
differently  with  different  people.  Some  are  guided  by 
reason,  others  must  be  confronted  with  authority  and  the 
names  of  celebrated  persons,  whose  brilliancy  dazzles  their 
mind  and  destroys  their  power  of  free  judgment.  I  will 
place  before  your  eyes  two  of  the  greatest  examples  be- 
longing to  your  sex  and  your  century  :  one,  that  of  a  woman 
who  allowed  herself  to  be  entirely  carried  away  by  grief ;  the 
other,  one  who,  though  afflicted  by  a  like  misfortune,  and 
an  even  greater  loss,  yet  did  not  allow  her  sorrows  to  reign 
over  her  for  a  very  long  time,  but  quickly  restored  her 
mind  to  its  accustomed  frame.  Octavia  and  Livia,  the 
former  Augustus's  sister,  the  latter  his  wife,  both  lost  their 
sons  when  they  were  young  men,  and  when  they  were 
certain  of  succeeding  to  the  throne.  Octavia  lost  Mar- 
cellus,  whom  both  his  father-in-law  and  his  uncle  had 
begun  to  depend  upon,  and  to  place  upon  his  shoulders 
the  weight  of  the  empire — a  young  man  of  keen  intelli- 
gence and  firm  character,  frugal  and  moderate  in  his 
desires  to  an  extent  which  deserved  especial  admiration  in 
one  so  young  and  so  wealthy,  strong  to  endure  labour, 
averse  to  indulgence,  and  able  to  bear  whatever  burden  his 
uncle  might  choose  to  lay,  or  I  may  say  to  pile  upon  his 
shoulders.  Augustus  had  well  chosen  him  as  a  founda- 
tion, for  he  would  not  have  given  way  under  any  weight, 
however  excessive.  His  mother  never  ceased  to  weep  and 
sob  during  her  whole  life,  never  endured  to  listen  to 
wholesome  advice,  never  even  allowed  her  thoughts  to  be 
diverted  from  her  sorrow.  She  remained  during  her 
whole  life  just  as  she  was  during  the  funeral,  with  all  the 


166  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

strength  of  her  mind  intently  fixed  npon  one  subject.  I 
do  not  say  that  she  lacked  the  courage  to  shake  off  her 
grief,  but  she  refused  to  be  comforted,  thought  that  it 
would  be  a  second  bereavement  to  lose  her  tears,  and 
would  not  have  any  portrait  of  her  darling  son,  nor  allow 
any  allusion  to  be  made  to  him.  She  hated  all  mothers, 
and  raged  against  Livia  with  especial  fury,  because  it 
seemed  as  though  the  brilliant  prospect  once  in  store  for 
her  own  child  was  now  transferred  to  Livia's  son.  Passing 
all  her  days  in  darkened  rooms  and  alone,  not  conversing 
even  with  her  brother,  she  refused  to  accept  the  poems 
which  were  composed  in  memory  of  Marcellus,  and  all  the 
other  honours  paid  him  by  literature,  and  closed  her  ears 
against  all  consolation.  She  lived  buried  and  hidden  from 
view,  neglecting  her  accustomed  duties,  and  actually  angry 
with  the  excessive  splendour  of  her  brother's  prosperity, 
in  which  she  shared.  Though  surrounded  by  her  children 
and  grandchildren,  she  would  not  lay  aside  her  mourning 
garb,  though  by  retaining  it  she  seemed  to  put  a  slight 
upon  all  her  relations,  in  thinking  herself  bereaved  in  spite 
of  their  being  alive. 

III.  Livia  lost  her  son  Drusus,  who  would  have  been  a 
great  emperor,  and  was  already  a  great  general :  he  had 
marched  far  into  Germany,  and  had  planted  the  Roman 
standards  in  places  where  the  very  existence  of  the  Romans 
was  hardly  known.  He  died  on  the  march,  his  very  foes 
treating  him  with  respect,  observing  a  reciprocal  truce, 
and  not  having  the  heart  to  wish  for  what  would  do  them 
most  service.  In  addition  to  his  dying  thus  in  his  coun- 
try's service,  great  sorrow  for  him  was  expressed  by  the 
citizens,  the  provinces,  and  the  whole  of  Italy,  through 
which  his  corpse  was  attended  by  the  people  of  the  free 
towns  and  colonies,  who  poured  out  to  perform  the  last  sad 
offices  to  him,  till  it  reached  Rome  in  a  procession  which 
resembled  a  triumph.     His  mother  was  not  permitted  to 


CH.  III.]  OF  CONSOLATION.  167 

receive  his  last  kiss  and  gather  the  last  fond  words  from  his 
dying  lips :  she  followed  the  relics  of  her  Drnsus  on  their 
long  journey,  though  every  one  of  the  funeral  pyres  with 
which  all  Italy  was  glowing  seemed  to  renew  her  grief,  as 
though  she  had  lost  him  so  many  times.  When,  however, 
she  at  last  laid  him  in  the  tomb,  she  left  her  sorrow  there 
with  him,  and  grieved  no  more  than  was  becoming  to  a 
Caesar  or  due  to  a  son.  She  did  not  cease  to  make  frequent 
mention  of  the  name  of  her  Drusus,  to  set  up  his  portrait 
in  all  places,  both  public  and  private,  and  to  speak  of  him 
and  listen  while  others  spoke  of  him  with  the  greatest  plea- 
sure :  she  lived  with  his  memory  ;  which  none  can  embrace 
and  consort  with  who  has  made  it  painful  to  himself.^  Choose, 
therefore,  which  of  these  two  examples  you  think  the  more 
commendable :  if  you  prefer  to  follow  the  former,  you  will 
remove  yourself  from  the  number  of  the  living ;  you  will 
shun  the  sight  both  of  other  people's  children  and  of 
your  own,  and  even  of  him  whose  loss  you  deplore ;  you 
will  be  looked  upon  by  mothers  as  an  omen  of  evil ;  you 
will  refuse  to  take  part  in  honourable,  permissible  plea- 
sures, thinking  them  unbecoming  for  one  so  afflicted ;  you 
will  be  loth  to  linger  above  ground,  and  will  be  especially 
angry  with  your  age,  because  it  will  not  straightway  bring 
your  life  abruptly  to  an  end.  I  here  put  the  best  con- 
struction on  what  is  really  most  contemptible  and  foreign 
to  your  character.  I  mean  that  you  will  show  yourself 
unwilling  to  live,  and  unable  to  die.  If,  on  the  other  hand, 
showing  a  milder  and  better  regulated  spirit,  you  try  to 
follow  the  example  of  the  latter  most  exalted  lady,  you  will 
not  be  in  misery,  nor  will  you  wear  your  life  out  with  suf- 
fering. Plague  on  it !  what  madness  this  is,  to  punish 
one's  self  because  one  is  unfortunate,  and  not  to  lessen, 
but  to  increase  one's  ills !     You  ought  to  display,  in  this 

^  If  it  is  a  pain  to  dwell  upon  the  thought  of  lost  friends,  of  course  you 
do  not  continually  refresh  the  memory  of  them  by  speaking  of  them. 


16S  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

matter  also,  that  decent  behavionr  and  modesty  wliicli  has 
characterised  all  your  life :  for  there  is  such  a  thing  as 
self-restraint  in  grief  also.  You  will  show  more  respect  for 
the  youth  himself,  who  well  deserves  that  it  should  make 
you  glad  to  speak  and  think  of  him,  if  you  make  him  able 
to  meet  his  mother  with  a  cheerful  countenance,  even  as  he 
was  wont  to  do  when  alive. 

lY.  I  will  not  invite  you  to  practise  the  sterner  kind  of 
maxims,  nor  bid  you  bear  the  lot  of  humanity  with  more 
than  human  philosophy ;  neither  will  I  attempt  to  dry  a 
mother's  eyes  on  the  very  day  of  her  son's  burial.  I  will 
appear  with  you  before  an  arbitrator:  the  matter  upon 
which  we  shall  join  issue  is,  whether  grief  ought  to  be 
deep  or  unceasing.  I  doubt  not  that  you  will  prefer  the 
example  of  Julia  Augusta,  who  was  your  intimate  friend : 
she  invites  you  to  follow  her  method :  she,  in  her  first 
paroxysm,  when  grief  is  especially  keen  and  hard  to  bear, 
betook  herself  for  consolation  to  Areus,  her  husband's 
teacher  in  philosophy,  and  declared  that  this  did  her  much 
good ;  more  good  than  the  thought  of  the  Roman  people, 
whom  she  was  unwilling  to  sadden  by  her  mourning; 
more  than  Augustus,  who,  staggering  under  the  loss  of 
one  of  his  two  chief  supporters,  ought  not  to  be  yet 
more  bowed  down  by  the  sorrow  of  his  relatives;  more 
even  than  her  son  Tiberius,  whose  affection  during  that 
untimely  burial  of  one  for  whom  whole  nations  wept 
made  her  feel  that  she  had  only  lost  one  member  of 
her  family.  This  was,  I  imagine,  his  introduction  to  and 
grounding  in  philosophy  of  a  woman  peculiarly  tenacious 
of  her  own  opinion  : — "  Even  to  the  present  day,  Julia,  as 
far  as  I  can  tell — and  I  was  your  husband's  constant  com- 
panion, and  knew  not  only  what  all  men  were  allowed  to 
know,  but  all  the  most  secret  thoughts  of  your  hearts — 
you  have  been  careful  that  no  one  should  find  anything  to 
blame  in  your  conduct ;  not  only  in  matters  of  importance. 


CH.  Y.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  169 

but  even  in  trifles  you  have  taken  pains  to  do  nothing 
which  you  could  wish  common  fame,  that  most  frank 
judge  of  the  acts  of  princes,  to  overlook.  Nothing,  I  think, 
is  more  admirable  than  that  those  who  are  in  high  places 
should  pardon  many  shortcomings  in  others,  and  have  to 
ask  it  for  none  of  their  own.  So  also  in  this  matter  of 
mourning  you  ought  to  act  up  to  your  maxim  of  doing 
nothing  which  you  could  wish  undone,  or  done  otherwise. 

V.  "In  the  next  place,  I  pray  and  beseech  you  not  to  be 
self-willed  and  beyond  the  management  of  your  friends. 
You  must  be  aware  that  none  of  them  know  how  to  behave, 
whether  to  mention  Drusus  in  your  presence  or  not,  as  they 
neither  wish  to  wrong  a  noble  youth  by  forgetting  him, 
nor  to  hurt  you  by  speaking  of  him.  When  we  leave  you 
and  assemble  together  by  ourselves,  we  talk  freely  about 
his  sayings  and  doings,  treating  them  with  the  respect 
which  they  deserve :  in  your  presence  deep  silence  is 
observed  about  him,  and  thus  you  lose  that  greatest  of 
pleasures,  the  hearing  the  praises  of  your  son,  which  I 
doubt  not  you  would  be  willing  to  hand  down  to  all  future 
ages,  had  you  the  means  of  so  doing,  even  at  the  cost  of 
your  own  life.  Wherefore  endure  to  listen  to,  nay,  encou- 
rage conversation  of  which  he  is  the  subject,  and  let  your 
ears  be  open  to  the  name  and  memory  of  your  son.  You 
ought  not  to  consider  this  painful,  like  those  who  in  such  a 
case  think  that  part  of  their  misfortune  consists  in  listening 
to  consolation.  As  it  is,  you  have  altogether  run  into  the 
other  extreme,  and,  forgetting  the  better  aspects  of  your 
lot,  look  only  upon  its  worse  side :  you  pay  no  attention  to 
the  pleasure  you  have  had  in  your  son's  society  and  your 
joyful  meetings  with  him,  the  sweet  caresses  of  his  baby- 
hood, the  progress  of  his  education :  you  fix  all  your  atten- 
tion upon  that  last  scene  of  all :  and  to  this,  as  though  it 
were  not  shocking  enough,  you  add  every  horror  you  can. 
Do  not,  I  implore  you,  take  a  perverse  pride  in  appearing 


170  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

the  most  unhappy  of  women  :  and  reflect  also  that  there  is 
no  great  credit  in  behaving  bravely  in  times  of  prosperity, 
when  life  glides  easily  with  a  favouring  current :  neither  does 
a  calm  sea  and  fair  wind  display  the  art  of  the  pilot :  some 
foul  weather  is  wanted  to  prove  his  courage.  Like  him, 
then,  do  not  give  way,  but  rather  plant  yourself  firmly,  and 
endure  whatever  burden  may  fall  upon  you  from  above, 
scared  though  you  may  have  been  at  the  first  roar  of  the 
tempest.  There  is  nothing  that  fastens  such  a  reproach  ^ 
on  Fortune  as  resignation."  After  this  he  points  out  to 
her  the  son  who  is  yet  alive :  he  points  out  grandchildren 
from  the  lost  one. 

VI.  It  is  your  trouble,  Marcia,  which  has  been  dealt 
with  here  :  it  is  beside  your  couch  of  mourning  that  Areus 
has  been  sitting :  change  the  characters,  and  it  is  you 
whom  he  has  been  consoling.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
Marcia,  suppose  that  you  have  sustained  a  greater  loss  than 
ever  mother  did  before  you  :  see,  I  am  not  soothing  you  or 
making  light  of  your  misfortune  :  if  fate  can  be  overcome 
by  tears,  let  us  bring  tears  to  bear  upon  it :  let  every  day  be 
passed  in  mourning,  every  night  be  spent  in  sorrow  instead 
of  sleep  :  let  your  breast  be  torn  by  your  own  hands,  your 
very  face  attacked  by  them,  and  every  kind  of  cruelty  be 
practised  by  your  grief,  if  it  will  profit  you.  But  if  the 
dead  cannot  be  brought  back  to  life,  however  much  we 
may  beat  our  breasts,  if  destiny  remains  fixed  and  im- 
moveable for  ever,  not  to  be  changed  by  any  sorrow,  how- 
ever great,  and  death  does  not  loose  his  hold  of  anything 
that  he  once  has  taken  away,  then  let  our  futile  grief  be 
brought  to  an  end.  Let  us,  then,  steer  our  own  course,  and 
no  longer  allow  ourselves  to  be  driven  to  leeward  by  the 
force  of  our  misfortune.  He  is  a  sorry  pilot  who  lets  the 
waves  wring  his  rudder  from  his  grasp,  who  leaves  the  sails 
to  fly  loose,  and  abandons  the  ship  to  the  storm :  but  he  who 

*  See  my  note  on  invidiam  facere  alieui  in  Juv.  16. — J.  E.  B.  Mator. 


CH.  yil]  of  consolation.  171 

boldly  grasps  the  helm  and  clings  to  it  until  the  sea  closes 
over  him,  deserves  praise  even  though  he  be  shipwrecked. 

VII.  "  But,"  say  you,  "  sorrow  for  the  loss  of  one's  own 
children  is  natural."  Who  denies  it  ?  provided  it  be 
reasonable  ?  for  we  cannot  help  feeling  a  pang,  and  the 
stoutest- hearted  of  us  are  cast  down  not  only  at  the  death 
of  those  dearest  to  us,  but  even  when  they  leave  us  on  a 
journey.  Nevertheless,  the  mourning  which  public  opinion 
enjoins  is  more  than  nature  insists  upon.  Observe  how 
intense  and  yet  how  brief  are  the  sorrows  of  dumb  animals : 
we  hear  a  cow  lowing  for  one  or  two  days,  nor  do  mares 
pursue  their  wild  and  senseless  gallops  for  longer:  wild 
beasts  after  they  have  tracked  their  lost  cubs  throughout 
the  forest,  and  often  visited  their  plundered  dens,  quench 
their  rage  within  a  short  space  of  time.  Birds  circle 
round  their  empty  nests  with  loud  and  piteous  cries,  yet 
almost  immediately  resume  their  ordinary  flight  in  silence  ; 
nor  does  any  creature  spend  long  periods  in  sorrowing  for 
the  loss  of  its  offspring,  except  man,  who  encourages  his 
own  grief,  the  measure  of  which  depends  not  upon  his 
sufferings,  but  upon  his  will.  You  may  know  that  to  be 
utterly  broken  down  by  grief  is  not  natural,  by  observing 
that  the  same  bereavement  inflicts  a  deeper  wound  upon 
women  than  upon  men,  upon  savages  than  upon  civilised 
and  cultivated  persons,  upon  the  unlearned  than  upon  the 
learned :  yet  those  passions  which  derive  their  force  from 
nature  are  equally  powerful  in  all  men  :  therefore  it  is 
clear  that  a  passion  of  varying  strength  cannot  be  a  natural 
one.  Fire  will  bum  all  people  equally,  male  and  female, 
of  every  rank  and  every  age  :  steel  will  exhibit  its  cutting 
power  on  all  bodies  alike :  and  why  ?  Because  these 
things  derive  their  strength  from  nature,  which  makes  no 
distinction  of  persons.     Poverty,  grief,  and  ambition,^  are 

^  Koch  declares  that  this  cannot  be  the  true  reading,  and  suggests 
deminutio,  '  degradation. ' 


172  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  VI. 

felt  differently  by  different  people,  according  as  they  are 
influenced  by  habit :  a  rooted  prejudice  about  the  terrors 
of  these  things,  though  they  are  not  really  to  be  feared, 
makes  a  man  weak  and  unable  to  endure  them. 

yill.  Moreover,  that  which  depends  upon  nature  is  not 
weakened  by  delay,  but  grief  is  gradually  effaced  by  time. 
However  obstinate  it  may  be,  though  it  be  daily  renewed 
and  be  exasperated  by  all  attempts  to  soothe  it,  yet  even  this 
becomes  weakened  by  time,  which  is  the  most  efficient 
means  of  taming  its  fierceness.  You,  Marcia,  have  still  a 
mighty  sorrow  abiding  with  you,  nevertheless  it  already 
appears  to  have  become  blunted :  it  is  obstinate  and 
enduring,  but  not  so  acute  as  it  was  at  first :  and  this  also 
will  be  taken  from  you  piecemeal  by  succeeding  years. 
Whenever  you  are  engaged  in  other  pursuits  your  mind 
will  be  relieved  from  its  burden  :  at  present  you  keep 
watch  over  yourself  to  prevent  this.  Yet  there  is  a  great 
difference  between  allowing  and  forcing  yourself  to  grieve. 
How  much  more  in  accordance  with  your  cultivated  taste 
it  would  be  to  put  an  end  to  your  mourning  instead  of 
looking  for  the  end  to  come,  and  not  to  wait  for  the  day 
when  your  sorrow  shall  cease  against  your  will :  dismiss  it 
of  your  own  accord. 

IX.  "Why  then,"  you  ask,  "do  we  show  such  per- 
sistence in  mourning  for  our  friends,  if  it  be  not  nature 
that  bids  us  do  so  ?  "  It  is  because  we  never  expect  that 
any  evil  will  befall  ourselves  before  it  comes,  we  will  not 
be  taught  by  seeing  the  misfortunes  of  others  that  they  are 
the  common  inheritance  of  all  men,  but  imagine  that  the 
path  which  we  have  begun  to  tread  is  free  from  them  and 
less  beset  by  dangers  than  that  of  other  people.  How 
many  funerals  pass  our  houses  ?  yet  we  do  not  think  of 
death.  How  many  untimely  deaths  ?  we  think  only  of  our 
son's  coming  of  age,  of  his  service  in  the  army,  or  of  his 
succession  to  his  father's  estate.    How  many  rich  men  sud- 


CH.  IX.]  OF  CONSOLATION.  173 

denly  sink  into  poverty  before  our  very  eyes,  without  its 
ever  occurring  to  our  minds  that  our  own  wealth  is  exposed 
to  exactly  the  same  risks  ?  When,  therefore,  misfortune 
befalls  us,  we  cannot  help  collapsing  all  the  more  com- 
pletely, because  we  are  struck  as  it  were  unawares  :  a  blow 
which  has  long  been  foreseen  falls  much  less  heavily  upon 
us.  Do  you  wish  to  know  how  completely  exposed  you 
are  to  every  stroke  of  fate,  and  that  the  same  shafts  which 
have  transfixed  others  are  whirling  around  yourself  ?  then 
imagine  that  you  are  mounting  without  sufficient  armour 
to  assault  some  city  wall  or  some  strong  and  lofty  position 
manned  by  a  great  host,  expect  a  wound,  and  suppose  that 
all  those  stones,  arrows,  and  darts  which  fill  the  upper  air 
are  aimed  at  your  body  :  whenever  any  one  falls  at  your 
side  or  behind  your  back,  exclaim,  "  Fortune,  you  will  not 
outwit  me,  or  catch  me  confident  and  heedless :  I  know 
what  you  are  preparing  to  do :  you  have  struck  down 
another,  but  you  aimed  at  me."  Who  ever  looks  upon  his 
own  affairs  as  though  he  were  at  the  point  of  death  ?  which  of 
us  ever  dares  to  think  about  banishment,  want,  or  mourning  ? 
who,  if  advised  to  meditate  upon  these  subjects,  would  not 
reject  the  idea  like  an  evil  omen,  and  bid  it  depart  from 
him  and  alight  on  the  heads  of  his  enemies,  or  even  on 
that  of  his  untimely  adviser  ?  "I  never  thought  it  would 
happen !  "  How  can  you  think  that  anything  will  not 
happen,  when  you  know  that  it  may  happen  to  many  men, 
and  has  happened  to  many  ?  That  is  a  noble  verse,  and 
worthy  of  a  nobler  source  than  the  stage  : — 

"  What  one  hath  suffered  may  befall  us  all." 
That  man  has  lost  his  children  :  you  may  lose  yours. 
That  man  has  been  convicted :  your  innocence  is  in  peril. 
We  are  deceived  and  weakened  by  this  delusion,  when  we 
suffer  what  we  never  foresaw  that  we  possibly  could  suffer  : 
but  by  looking  forward  to  the  coming  of  our  sorrows  we 
take  the  sting  out  of  them  when  they  come. 


174  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

X.  My  Marcia,  all  these  adventitious  circumstaiices 
which  glitter  around  us,  such  as  children,  office  in  the 
state,  wealth,  large  halls,  vestibules  crowded  with  clients 
seeking  vainly  for  admittance,  a  noble  name,  a  well-born 
or  beautiful  wife,  and  every  other  thing  which  depends 
entirely  upon  uncertain  and  changeful  fortune,  are  but 
furniture  which  is  not  our  own,  but  entrusted  to  us  on  loan  : 
none  of  these  things  are  given  to  us  outright :  the  stage  of 
our  lives  is  adorned  with  properties  gathered  from  various 
sources,  and  soon  to  be  returned  to  their  several  owners  : 
some  of  them  will  be  taken  away  on  the  first  day,  some  on 
the  second,  and  but  few  will  remain  till  the  end.  We 
have,  therefore,  no  grounds  for  regarding  ourselves  with 
complacency,  as  though  the  things  which  surround  us  were 
our  own :  they  are  only  borrowed  :  we  have  the  use  and 
enjoyment  of  them  for  a  time  regulated  by  the  lender, 
who  controls  his  own  gift :  it  is  our  duty  always  to  be 
able  to  lay  our  hands  upon  what  has  been  lent  us  with 
no  fixed  date  for  its  return,  and  to  restore  it  when  called 
upon  without  a  murmur:  the  most  detestable  kind  of 
debtor  is  he  who  rails  at  his  creditor.  Hence  all  our  rela- 
tives, both  those  who  by  the  order  of  their  birth  we  hope 
will  outlive  ourselves,  and  those  who  themselves  most 
properly  wish  to  die  before  us,  ought  to  be  loved  by  us  as 
persons  whom  we  cannot  be  sure  of  having  with  us  for  ever, 
nor  even  for  long.  We  ought  frequently  to  remind  our- 
selves that  we  must  love  the  things  of  this  life  as  we  would 
what  is  shortly  to  leave  us,  or  indeed  in  the  very  act  of 
leaving  us.  Whatever  gift  Fortune  bestows  upon  a  man, 
let  him  think  while  he  enjoys  it,  that  it  will  prove  as  fickle 
as  the  goddess  from  whom  it  came.  Snatch  what  pleasure 
you  can  from  your  children,  allow  your  children  in  their 
turn  to  take  pleasure  in  your  society,  and  drain  every 
pleasure  to  the  dregs  without  any  delay.  We  cannot 
reckon  on  to-night,  nay,  I  have  allowed  too  long  a  delay, 


CH.  XI.]  OF  CONSOLATION.  175 

we  cannot  reckon  on  this  hour :  we  mnst  make  haste  : 
the  enemy  presses  on  behind  us  :  soon  that  society  of  yours 
will  be  broken  up,  that  pleasant  company  will  be  taken  by 
assault  and  dispersed.  Pillage  is  the  universal  law  :  un- 
happy creatures,  know  you  not  that  life  is  but  a  flight  ? 
If  you  grieve  for  the  death  of  your  son,  the  fault  lies  with 
the  time  when  he  was  born,  for  at  his  birth  he  was  told 
that  death  was  his  doom  :  it  is  the  law  under  which  he  was 
bom,  the  fate  which  has  pursued  him  ever  since  he  left  his 
mother's  womb.  We  have  come  under  the  dominion  of 
Fortune,  and  a  harsh  and  unconquerable  dominion  it  is  :  at 
her  caprice  we  must  suffer  all  things  whether  we  deserve 
thepi  or  not.  She  maltreats  our  bodies  with  anger,  insult, 
and  cruelty :  some  she  burns,  the  fire  being  sometimes 
applied  as  a  punishment  and  sometimes  as  a  remedy  :  some 
she  imprisons,  allowing  it  to  be  done  at  one  time  by  our 
enemies,  at  another  by  our  countrymen  :  she  tosses  others 
naked  on  the  changeful  seas,  and  after  their  struggle  with 
the  waves  will  not  even  cast  them  out  upon  the  sand  or 
the  shore,  but  will  entomb  them  in  the  belly  of  some  huge 
sea-monster  :  she  wears  away  others  to  a  skeleton  by  divers 
kinds  of  disease,  and  keeps  them  long  in  suspense  between 
life  and  death :  she  is  as  capricious  in  her  rewards  and 
punishments  as  a  fickle,  whimsical,  and  careless  mistress  is 
with  those  of  her  slaves. 

XI.  Why  need  we  weep  over  parts  of  our  life  ?  the 
whole  of  it  calls  for  tears  :  new  miseries  assail  us  before  we 
have  freed  ourselves  from  the  old  ones.  You,  therefore, 
who  allow  them  to  trouble  you  to  an  unreasonable  extent 
ought  especially  to  restrain  yourselves,  and  to  muster  all 
the  powers  of  the  human  breast  to  combat  your  fears  and  your 
pains.  Moreover,  what  f orgetfulness  of  your  own  position 
and  that  of  mankind  is  this  ?  You  were  born  a  mortal, 
and  you  have  given  birth  to  mortals  :  yourself  a  weak  and 
fragile  body,  liable  to  all  diseases,  can  you  have  hoped  to 


176  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

prodnce  anything  strong  and  lasting  from  such  unstable 
materials  ?  Your  son  has  died  :  in  other  words  he  has 
reached  that  goal  towards  which  those  whom  you  regard  as 
more  fortunate  than  your  offspring  are  still  hastening ; 
this  is  the  point  towards  which  move  at  different  rates  all 
the  crowds  which  are  squabbling  in  the  law  courts,  sitting 
in  the  theatres,  praying  in  the  temples.  Those  whom  you 
love  and  those  whom  you  despise  will  both  be  made  equal 
in  the  same  ashes.  This  is  the  meaning  of  that  command, 
KNOW  THYSELF,  which  is  written  on  the  shrine  of  the 
Pythian  oracle.  What  is  man  ?  a  potter's  vessel,  to  be 
broken  by  the  slightest  shake  or  toss  :  it  requires  no  great 
storm  to  rend  you  asunder  :  you  fall  to  pieces  wherever 
you  strike.  What  is  man  ?  a  weakly  and  frail  body, 
naked,  without  any  natural  protection,  dependent  on  the 
help  of  others,  exposed  to  all  the  scorn  of  Fortune  ;  even 
when  his  muscles  are  well  trained  he  is  the  prey  and  the 
food  of  the  first  wild  beast  he  meets,  formed  of  weak 
and  unstable  substances,  fair  in  outward  feature,  but 
unable  to  endure  cold,  heat,  or  labour,  and  yet  falling  to 
ruin  if  kept  in  sloth  and  idleness,  fearing  his  very  victuals, 
for  he  is  starved  if  he  has  them  not,  and  bursts  if  he  has 
too  much.  He  cannot  be  kept  safe  without  anxious  care, 
his  breath  only  stays  in  the  body  on  sufferance,  and  has 
no  real  hold  upon  it ;  he  starts  at  every  sudden  danger, 
every  loud  and  unexpected  noise  that  reaches  his  ears. 
Ever  a  cause  of  anxiety  to  ourselves,  diseased  and  useless 
as  we  are,  can  we  be  surprised  at  the  death  of  a  creature 
which  can  be  killed  by  a  single  hiccup  ?  Is  it  a  great 
undertaking  to  put  an  end  to  us  ?  why,  smells,  tastes, 
fatigue  and  want  of  sleep,  food  and  drink,  and  the  very 
necessaries  of  life,  are  mortal.  Whithersoever  he  moves  he 
straightway  becomes  conscious  of  his  weakness,  not  being 
able  to  bear  all  climates,  falling  sick  after  drinking  strange 
water,  breathing  an  air  to  which  he  is  not  accustomed,  or 


CH.  XII.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  177 

from  other  causes  and  reasons  of  the  most  trifling  kind, 
frail,  sickly,  entering  npon  his  life  with  weeping :  yet 
nevertheless  what  a  disturbance  this  despicable  creature 
makes !  what  ideas  it  conceives,  forgetting  its  lowly  con- 
dition !  It  exercises  its  mind  upon  matters  which  are 
immortal  and  eternal,  and  arranges  the  affairs  of  its  grand- 
children and  great-grandchildren,  while  death  surprises  it 
in  the  midst  of  its  far-reaching  schemes,  and  what  we 
call  old  age  is  but  the  round  of  a  very  few  years. 

XII.  Supposing  that  your  sorrow  has  any  method  at  all, 
is  it  your  own  sufferings  or  those  of  him  who  is  gone  that 
it  has  in  view  ?  Why  do  you  grieve  over  your  lost  son  ?  is 
it  because  you  have  received  no  pleasure  from  him,  or 
because  you  would  have  received  more  had  he  lived  longer  ? 
If  you  answer  that  you  have  received  no  pleasure  from 
him  you  make  your  loss  more  endurable :  for  men  miss 
less  when  lost  what  has  given  them  no  enjoyment  or  glad- 
ness. If,  again,  you  admit  that  you  have  received  much 
pleasure,  it  is  your  duty  not  to  complain  of  that  part  which 
you  have  lost,  but  to  return  thanks  for  that  which  you 
have  enjoyed.  His  rearing  alone  ought  to  have  brought 
you  a  sufficient  return  for  your  labours,  for  it  can  hardly 
be  that  those  who  take  the  greatest  pains  to  rear  puppies, 
birds,  and  such  like  paltry  objects  of  amusement  derive  a 
certain  pleasure  from  the  sight  and  touch  and  fawning 
caresses  of  these  dumb  creatures,  and  yet  that  those  who 
rear  children  should  not  find  their  reward  in  doing  so. 
Thus,  even  though  his  industry  may  have  gained  nothing 
for  you,  his  carefulness  may  have  saved  nothing  for  you, 
his  foresight  may  have  given  you  no  advice,  yet  you  found 
sufficient  reward  in  having  owned  him  and  loved  him. 
"But,"  say  you,  "it  might  have  lasted  longer."  True,  but 
you  have  been  better  dealt  with  than  if  you  had  never  had 
a  son,  for,  supposing  you  were  given  your  choice,  which  is 
the  better  lot,  to  be  happy  for  a  short  time  or  not  at  all  ? 

N 


178  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

It  is  better  to  enjoy  pleasures  which  soon  leave  us  than  to 
enjoy  none  at  all.  "Which,  again,  would  you  choose  ?  to 
have  had  one  who  was  a  disgrace  to  you,  and  who  merely 
filled  the  position  and  owned  the  name  of  your  son,  or  one 
of  such  noble  character  as  your  son's  was  ?  a  youth  who 
soon  grew  discreet  and  dutiful,  soon  became  a  husband  and 
a  father,  soon  became  eager  for  public  honours,  and  soon 
obtained  the  priesthood,  winning  his  way  to  all  these 
admirable  things  with  equally  admirable  speed.  It  falls 
to  scarcely  any  one's  lot  to  enjoy  great  prosperity,  and  also 
to  enjoy  it  for  a  long  time  :  only  a  dull  kind  of  happiness 
can  last  for  long  and  accompany  us  to  the  end  of  our  lives. 
The  immortal  gods,  who  did  not  intend  to  give  you  a  son 
for  long,  gave  you  one  who  was  straightway  what  another 
would  have  required  long  training  to  become.  You  cannot 
even  say  that  you  have  been  specially  marked  by  the  gods 
for  misfortune  because  you  have  had  no  pleasure  in  your 
son.  Look  at  any  company  of  people,  whether  they  be 
known  to  you  or  not :  everywhere  you  will  see  some  who 
have  endured  greater  misfortunes  than  your  own.  Great 
generals  and  princes  have  undergone  like  bereavements  : 
mythology  tells  us  that  the  gods  themselves  are  not 
exempt  from  them,  its  aim,  I  suppose,  being  to  lighten 
our  sorrow  at  death  by  the  thought  that  even  deities 
are  subject  to  it.  Look  around,  I  repeat,  at  every  one  : 
you  cannot  mention  any  house  so  miserable  as  not  to  find 
comfort  in  the  fact  of  another  being  yet  more  miserable. 
I  do  not,  by  Hercules,  think  so  ill  of  your  principles  as  to 
suppose  that  you  would  bear  your  sorrow  more  lightly 
were  I  to  show  you  an  enormous  company  of  mourners : 
that  is  a  spiteful  sort  of  consolation  which  we  derive  from 
the  number  of  our  fellow-sufferers :  nevertheless  I  will 
quote  some  instances,  not  indeed  in  order  to  teach  you  that 
this  often  befalls  men,  for  it  is  absurd  to  multiply  examples 
of  man's  mortality,  but  to  let  you  know  that  there  have 


CH.  XIII.]  OP   CONSOLATION,  179 

been  many  who  have  lightened  their  misfortunes  by  patient 
endurance  of  them.  I  will  begin  with  the  luckiest  man  of 
all.  Lucius  Sulla  lost  his  son,  yet  this  did  not  impair 
either  the  spitefulness  or  the  brilliant  valour  which  he  dis- 
played at  the  expense  of  his  enemies  and  his  countrymen 
alike,  nor  did  it  make  him  appear  to  have  assumed  his 
well-known  title  untruly  that  he  did  so  after  his  son's 
death,  fearing  neither  the  hatred  of  men,  by  whose 
sufferings  that  excessive  prosperity  of  his  was  purchased, 
nor  the  ill-will  of  the  gods,  to  whom  it  was  a  reproach  that 
Sulla  should  be  so  truly  The  Fortunate.  What,  however, 
Sulla's  real  character  was  may  pass  among  questions  still 
undecided :  even  his  enemies  will  admit  that  he  took  up 
arms  with  honour,  and  laid  them  aside  with  honour:  his 
example  proves  the  point  at  issue,  that  an  evil  which 
befalls  even  the  most  prosperous  cannot  be  one  of  the  first 
magnitude. 

XIII.  That  Greece  cannot  boast  unduly  of  that  father  who, 
being  in  the  act  of  offering  sacrifice  when  he  heard  the  news 
of  his  son's  death,  merely  ordered  the  flute-player  to  be  silent, 
and  removed  the  garland  from  his  head,  but  accomplished 
all  the  rest  of  the  ceremony  in  due  form,  is  due  to  a  Roman, 
Pulvillus  the  high  priest.  When  he  was  in  the  act  of 
holding  the  doorpost^  and  dedicating  the  Capitol  the  news 
of  his  son's  death  was  brought  to  him.  He  pretended  not 
to  hear  it,  and  pronounced  the  form  of  words  proper  for 
the  high  priest  on  such  an  occasion,  without  his  prayer 
being  interrupted  by  a  single  groan,  begging  that  Jupiter 
would  show  himself  gracious,  at  the  very  instant  that  he 
heard  his  son's  name  mentioned  as  dead.  Do  you  imagine 
that  this  man's  mourning  knew  no  end,  if  the  first  day  and 
the  first  shock  could  not  drive  him,  though  a  father,  away 

^  This  seems  to  have  been  part  of  the  ceremony  of  dedication. 
Pulvillus  was  dedicating  the  Temple  of  Jupiter  in  the  Capitol.  See 
Livy,  ii.  8  ;  Cic.  Pro  Domo,  paragraph  cxxi. 


180  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  YI. 

from  the  public  altar  of  the  state,  or  cause  him  to  mar  the 
ceremony  of  dedication  by  words  of  ill  omen  ?  Worthy, 
indeed,  of  the  most  exalted  priesthood  was  he  who  ceased 
not  to  revere  the  gods  even  when  they  were  angry.  Yet 
he,  after  he  had  gone  home,  filled  his  eyes  with  tears,  said 
a  few  words  of  lamentation,  and  performed  the  rites  with 
which  it  was  then  customary  to  honour  the  dead,  resumed 
the  expression  of  countenance  which  he  had  worn  in  the 
Capitol. 

Paulus,^  about  the  time  of  his  magnificent  triumph,  in 
which  he  drove  Perses  in  chains  before  his  car,  gave  two 
of  his  sons  to  be  adopted  into  other  families,  and  buried 
those  whom  he  had  kept  for  himself.  What,  think  you,  must 
those  whom  he  kept  have  been,  when  Scipio  was  one  of  those 
whom  he  gave  away  ?  It  was  not  without  emotion  that 
the  Roman  people  looked  upon  Paulus's  empty  chariot:^ 
nevertheless  he  made  a  speech  to  them,  and  returned 
thanks  to  the  gods  for  having  granted  his  prayer :  for  he 
had  prayed  that,  if  any  offering  to  Nemesis  were  due  in 
consequence  of  the  stupendous  victory  which  he  had  won, 
it  might  be  paid  at  his  own  expense  rather  than  at  that  of 
his  country.  Do  you  see  how  magnanimously  he  bore  his 
loss  ?  he  even  congratulated  himself  on  being  left  childless, 
though  who  had  more  to  suffer  by  such  a  change  ?  he  lost 
at  once  his  comforters  and  his  helpers.  Yet  Perses  did 
not  have  the  pleasure  of  seeing  Paulus  look  sorrowful. 

XIV.  Why  should  I  lead  you  on  through  the  endless 

^  Lucius  -/Emilius  Faullus  conquered  Perses,  the  last  King  of  Mace- 
donia, B.C.  168. 

'  "  For  he  had  four  sons,  two,  as  has  been  already  related,  adopted  into 
other  families,  Scipio  and  Fabins ;  and  two  others,  who  were  still  chil- 
dren, by  his  second  wife,  who  lived  in  his  own  house.  Of  these,  one 
died  five  days  before  ^milius's  triumph,  at  the  age  of  fourteen,  and  the 
other,  twelve  years  old,  died  three  days  after  it :  so  that  there  was  no 
Roman  that  did  not  grieve  for  him,"  &c. — Plutarch,  "Lifeof^milius,'' 
ch.  XXXV. 


CH.  XV.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  181 

series  of  great  men  and  pick  out  the  unhappy  ones,  as 
though  it  were  not  more  difficult  to  find  happy  ones  ?  for 
how  few  households  have  remained  possessed  of  all  their 
members  until  the  end  ?  what  one  is  there  that  has  not 
suffered  some  loss  ?  Take  any  one  year  you  please  and 
name  the  consuls  for  it :  if  you  like,  that  of  ^  Lucius  Bibulus 
and  Grains  Caesar;  you  will  see  that,  though  these  colleagues 
were  each  other's  bitterest  enemies,  yet  their  fortunes 
agreed.  Lucius  Bibulus,  a  man  more  remarkable  for 
goodness  than  for  strength  of  character,  had  both  his  sons 
murdered  at  the  same  time,  and  even  insulted  by  the 
Egyptian  soldiery,  so  that  the  agent  of  his  bereavement 
was  as  much  a  subject  for  tears  as  the  bereavement  itself. 
Nevertheless  Bibulus,  who  during  the  whole  of  his  year 
of  office  had  remained  hidden  in  his  house,  to  cast 
reproach  upon  his  colleague  Caesar  on  the  day  follow- 
ing that  upon  which  he  heard  of  both  his  sons'  deaths, 
came  forth  and  went  through  the  routine  business  of  his 
magistracy.  Who  could  devote  less  than  one  day  to 
mourning  for  two  sons  ?  Thus  soon  did  he  end  his  mourn- 
ing for  his  children,  although  he  had  mourned  a  whole 
year  for  his  consulship.  Grains  Caesar,  after  having  tra- 
versed Britain,  and  not  allowed  even  the  ocean  to  set 
bounds  to  his  successes,  heard  of  the  death  of  his  daughter, 
which  huri-ied  on  the  crisis  of  affairs.  Already  Gnaeus 
Pompeius  stood  before  his  eyes,  a  man  who  would  ill 
endure  that  any  one  besides  himself  should  become  a  great 
power  in  the  state,  and  one  who  was  likely  to  place  a  check 
upon  his  advancement,  which  he  had  regarded  as  onerous 
even  when  each  gained  by  the  other's  rise :  yet  within  three 
days'  time  he  resumed  his  duties  as  general,  and  conquered 
his  grief  as  quickly  as  he  was  wont  to  conquer  everything 
else. 

XV.  Why  need  I  remind  you  of  the  deaths  of  the  other 
^  A.  U.  C.  695,  B.C.  59. 


182  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

Caesars,  whom  fortune  appears  to  me  sometimes  to  have  out- 
raged in  order  that  even  by  their  deaths  they  might  be  useful 
to  mankind,  by  proving  that  not  even  they,  although  they 
were  styled  "  sons  of  gods,"  and  *'  fathers  of  gods  to  come," 
could  exercise  the  same  power  over  their  own  fortunes  which 
they  did  over  those  of  others  ?  The  Emperor  Augustus  lost 
his  children  and  his  grandchildren,  and  after  all  the 
family  of  Caesar  had  perished  was  obliged  to  prop  his 
empty  house  by  adopting  a  son :  yet  he  bore  his  losses 
as  bravely  as  though  he  were  already  personally  con- 
cerned in  the  honour  of  the  gods,  and  as  though  it  were 
especially  to  his  interest  that  no  one  should  complain  of 
the  injustice  of  Heaven.  Tiberius  Caesar  lost  both  the 
son  whom  he  begot  and  the  son  whom  he  adopted,  yet 
he  himself  pronounced  a  panegyric  upon  his  son  from 
the  Rostra,  and  stood  in  full  view  of  the  corpse,  which 
merely  had  a  curtain  on  one  side  to  prevent  the  eyes  of  the 
high  priest  resting  upon  the  dead  body,  and  did  not  change 
his  countenance,  though  all  the  Romans  wept:  he  gave 
Sejanus,  who  stood  by  his  side,  a  proof  of  how  patiently  he 
could  endure  the  loss  of  his  relatives.  See  you  not  what 
numbers  of  most  eminent  men  there  have  been,  none  of  whom 
have  been  spared  by  this  blight  which  prostrates  us  all :  men, 
too,  adorned  with  every  grace  of  character,  and  every  dis- 
tinction that  public  or  private  life  can  confer.  It  appears 
as  though  this  plague  moved  in  a  regular  orbit,  and  spread 
ruin  and  desolation  among  us  all  without  distinction  of 
persons,  all  being  alike  its  prey.  Bid  any  number  of  indi- 
viduals tell  you  the  story  of  their  lives  :  you  will  find  that 
all  have  paid  some  penalty  for  being  born. 

XVI.  I  know  what  you  will  say,  "  You  quote  men  as 
examples :  you  forget  that  it  is  a  woman  that  you  are  trying  to 
console."  Yet  who  would  say  that  nature  has  dealt  grudg- 
ingly with  the  minds  of  women,  and  stunted  their  virtues  ? 
Believe  me,  they  have  the  same  intellectual  power  as  men, 


CH.  XVI.]  OP   CONSOLATION.  183 

and  the  same  capacity  for  honourable  and  generons  action. 
If  trained  to  do  so,  they  are  just  as  able  to  endure  sorrow  or 
labour.  Te  good  gods,  do  I  say  this  in  that  very  city  in 
which  Lucretia  and  Brutus  removed  the  yoke  of  kings  from 
the  necks  of  the  Romans  ?  We  owe  liberty  to  Brutus,  but  we 
owe  Brutus  to  Lucretia — in  which  Cloelia,  for  the  sublime 
courage  with  which  she  scorned  both  the  enemy  and  the 
river,  has  been  almost  reckoned  as  a  man.  The  statue  of 
Cloelia,  mounted  on  horseback,  in  that  busiest  of  thorough- 
fares, the  Sacred  Way,  continually  reproaches  the  youth  of 
the  present  day,  who  never  mount  anything  but  a  cushioned 
seat  in  a  carriage,  with  journeying  in  such  a  fashion  through 
that  very  city  in  which  we  have  enrolled  even  women 
among  our  knights.  If  you  wish  me  to  point  out  to  you 
examples  of  women  who  have  bravely  endured  the  loss  of 
their  children,  I  shall  not  go  far  afield  to  search  for  them  : 
in  one  family  I  can  quote  two  Cornelias,  one  the  daughter 
of  Scipio,  and  the  mother  of  the  Grracchi,  who  made  acknow- 
ledgment of  the  birth  of  her  twelve  children  by  burying 
them  all :  nor  was  it  so  hard  to  do  this  in  the  case  of  the 
others,  whose  birth  and  death  were  alike  unknown  to  the 
public,  but  she  beheld  the  murdered  and  unburied  corpses 
of  both  Tiberius  Gracchus  and  Gains  Gracchus,  whom  even 
those  who  will  not  call  them  good  must  admit  were  great 
men.  Yet  to  those  who  tried  to  console  her  and  called  her 
unfortunate,  she  answered,  "  I  shall  never  cease  to  call  my- 
self happy,  because  I  am  the  mother  of  the  Gracchi." 
Cornelia,  the  wife  of  Livius  Drusus,  lost  by  the  hands  of  an 
unknown  assassin  a  young  son  of  great  distinction,  who  was 
treading  in  the  footsteps  of  the  Gracchi,  and  was  murdered 
in  his  own  house  just  when  he  had  so  many  bills  half  way 
through  the  process  of  becoming  law :  nevertheless  she 
bore  the  untimely  and  unavenged  death  of  her  son  with  as 
.lofty  a  spirit  as  he  had  shown  in  carrying  his  laws.  Will 
you  not,  Marcia,  forgive  fortune  because  she  has  not  re- 


184  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  YI. 

frained  from  striking  you  with  the  darts  with  which  she 
launched  at  the  Scipios,  and  the  mothers  and  daughters  of 
the  Scipios,  and  with  which  she  has  attacked  the  Caesars 
themselves  ?  Life  is  full  of  misfortunes ;  our  path  is  beset 
with  them  :  no  one  can  make  a  long  peace,  nay,  scarcely  an 
armistice  with  fortune.  You,  Marcia,  have  borne  four 
children  :  now  they  say  that  no  dart  which  is  hurled  into  a 
close  column  of  soldiers  can  fail  to  hit  one, — ought  you 
then  to  wonder  at  not  having  been  able  to  lead  along  such 
a  company  without  exciting  the  ill-will  of  Fortune,  or  suffer- 
ing loss  at  her  hands?  "But,"  say  you,  "Fortune  has 
treated  me  unfairly,  for  she  not  only  has  bereaved  me  of 
my  son,  but  chose  my  best  beloved  to  deprive  me  of."  Yet 
you  never  can  say  that  you  have  been  wronged,  if  you 
divide  the  stakes  equally  with  an  antagonist  who  is  stronger 
than  yourself :  Fortune  has  left  you  two  daughters,  and 
their  children :  she  has  not  even  taken  away  altogether  him 
who  you  now  mourn  for,  forgetful  of  his  elder  brother  :  you 
have  two  daughters  by  him,  who  if  you  support  them  ill 
will  prove  great  burdens,  but  if  well,  great  comforts  to  you. 
You  ought  to  prevail  upon  yourself,  when  you  see  them,  to 
let  them  remind  you  of  your  son,  and  not  of  your  grief. 
When  a  husbandman's  trees  have  either  been  torn  up,  roots 
and  all,  by  the  wind,  or  broken  off  short  by  the  force  of  a 
hurricane,  he  takes  care  of  what  is  left  of  their  stock,  straight- 
way plants  seeds  or  cuttings  in  the  place  of  those  which  he 
has  lost,  and  in  a  moment — for  time  is  as  swift  in  repairing 
losses  as  in  causing  them — more  flourishing  trees  are  grow- 
ing than  were  there  before.  Take,  then,  in  the  place  of 
your  Metilius  these  his  two  daughters,  and  by  their  two- 
fold consolation  lighten  your  single  sorrow.  True,  human 
nature  is  so  constituted  as  to  love  nothing  so  much  as  what 
it  has  lost,  and  our  yearning  after  those  who  have  been 
taken  from  us  makes  us  judge  unfairly  of  those  who  are  left 
to  us :  nevertheless,  if  you  choose  to  reckon  up  how  merci- 


CH.  XVII.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  185 

f al  Fortune  has  been  to  you  even  in  her  anger,  you  will  feel 
that  you  have  more  than  enough  to  console  you.  Look  at 
all  your  grandchildren,  and  your  two  daughters :  and  say 
also,  Marcia: — "  I  should  indeed  be  cast  down,  if  everyone's 
fortune  followed  his  deserts,  and  if  no  evil  ever  befel  good 
men  :  but  as  it  is  I  perceive  that  no  distinction  is  made,  and 
that  the  bad  and  the  good  are  both  harassed  alike." 

XYII.  "  Still,  it  is  a  sad  thing  to  lose  a  young  man  whom 
you  have  brought  up,  just  as  he  was  becoming  a  defence 
and  a  pride  both  to  his  mother  and  to  his  country."  No 
one  denies  that  it  is  sad :  but  it  is  the  common  lot  of  mor- 
tals. You  were  born  to  lose  others,  to  be  lost,  to  hope,  to 
fear,  to  destroy  your  own  peace  and  that  of  others,  to  fear 
and  yet  to  long  for  death,  and,  worst  of  all,  never  to  know 
what  your  real  position  is.  If  you  were  about  to  journey  to 
Syracuse,  and  some  one  were  to  say : — "  Learn  beforehand 
all  the  discomforts,  and  all  the  pleasures  of  your  coming 
voyage,  and  then  set  sail.  The  sights  which  you  will  enjoy 
will  be  as  follows  :  first,  you  will  see  the  island  itself,  now 
separated  from  Italy  by  a  narrow  strait,  but  which,  we  know, 
once  formed  part  of  the  mainland.  The  sea  suddenly  broke 
through,  and 

*  Sever'd  Sicilia  from  the  western  shore.'  ^ 

Next,  as  you  will  be  able  to  sail  close  to  Charybdis,  of 
which  the  poets  have  sung,  you  will  see  that  greediest  of 
whirlpools,  quite  smooth  if  no  south  wind  be  blowing,  but 
whenever  there  is  a  gale  from  that  quarter,  sucking  down 
ships  into  a  huge  and  deep  abyss.  You  will  see  the  foun- 
tain of  Arethusa,  so  famed  in  song,  with  its  waters  bright 
and  pellucid  to  the  very  bottom,  and  pouring  forth  an  icy 
stream  which  it  either  finds  on  the  spot  or  else  plunges  it 
under  ground,  conveys  it  thither  as  a  separate  river  beneath 
so  many  seas,  free  from  any  mixture  of  less  pure  water,  and 

»  Virg.  JE.  Ill,  418. 


186  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

there  brings  it  again  to  the  surface.  Yon  will  see  a  harbour 
which  is  more  sheltered  than  all  the  others  in  the  world, 
whether  they  be  natural  or  improved  hy  human  art  for  the 
protection  of  shipping ;  so  safe,  that  even  the  most  violent 
storms  are  powerless  to  disturb  it.  You  will  see  the  place 
where  the  power  of  Athens  was  broken,  where  that  natural 
prison,  hewn  deep  among  precipices  of  rock,  received  so 
many  thousands  of  captives  :  you  will  see  the  great  city 
itself,  occupying  a  wider  site  than  many  capitals,  an  ex- 
tremely warm  resort  in  winter,  where  not  a  single  day 
passes  without  sunshine  :  but  when  you  have  observed  all 
this,  you  must  remember  that  the  advantages  of  its  winter 
climate  are  counterbalanced  by  a  hot  and  pestilential 
summer :  that  here  will  be  the  tyrant  Dionysius,  the  de- 
stroyer of  freedom,  of  justice,  and  of  law,  who  is  greedy 
of  power  even  after  conversing  with  Plato,  and  of  life 
even  after  he  has  been  exiled ;  that  he  will  bum  some, 
flog  others,  and  behead  others  for  slight  offences ;  that  he 

will  exercise   his   lust  upon  both   sexes You 

have  now  heard  all  that  can  attract  you  thither,  all 
that  can  deter  you  from  going :  now,  then,  either  set  sail 
or  remain  at  home!"  If,  after  this  declaration,  anybody 
were  to  say  that  he  wished  to  go  to  Syracuse,  he  could 
blame  no  one  but  himself  for  what  bef el  him  there,  because 
he  would  not  stumble  upon  it  unknowingly,  but  would  have 
gone  thither  fully  aware  of  what  was  before  him.  To  every- 
one Nature  says  :  "  I  do  not  deceive  any  person.  If  you 
choose  to  have  children,  they  may  be  handsome,  or  they 
may  be  deformed ;  perhaps  they  will  be  born  dumb.  One 
of  them  may  perhaps  prove  the  saviour  of  his  country,  or 
perhaps  its  betrayer.  You  need  not  despair  of  their  being 
I'aised  to  such  honour  that  for  their  sake  no  one  will  dare 
to  speak  evil  of  you :  yet  remember  that  they  may  reach 
such  a  pitch  of  infamy  as  themselves  to  become  curses  to 
you.     There  is  nothing  to  prevent  their  performing  the 


CH.Xyill.]  OF  CONSOLATION.  187 

last  offices  for  you,  and  your  panegyric  being  spoken  by 
your  children :  but  hold  yourself  prepared  nevertheless  to 
place  a  son  as  boy,  man,  or  greybeard,  upon  the  funeral  pyre : 
for  years  have  nothing  to  do  with  the  matter,  since  every 
sort  of  funeral  in  vrhich  a  parent  buries  his  child  must  alike 
be  untimely.^  If  you  still  choose  to  rear  children,  after  I  have 
explained  these  conditions  to  you,  you  render  yourself  in- 
capable of  blaming  the  gods,  for  they  never  guaranteed 
anything  to  you." 

XYIII.  You  may  make  this  simile  apply  to  your  whole 
entrance  into  life.  I  have  explained  to  you  what  attractions 
and  what  drawbacks  there  would  be  if  you  were  thinking 
of  going  to  Syracuse :  now  suppose  that  I  were  to  come 
and  give  you  advice  when  you  were  going  to  be  born. 
"  You  are  about,"  I  should  say,  "to  enter  a  city  of  which 
both  gods  and  men  are  citizens,  a  city  which  contains  the 
whole  universe,  which  is  bound  by  irrevocable  and  eternal 
laws,  and  wherein  the  heavenly  bodies  run  their  unwearied 
courses :  you  will  see  therein  innumerable  twinkling 
stars,  and  the  sun,  whose  single  light  pervades  every 
place,  who  by  his  daily  course  marks  the  times  of  day  and 
night,  and  by  his  yearly  course  makes  a  more  equal 
division  between  summer  and  winter.  You  will  see  his 
place  taken  by  night  by  the  moon,  who  borrows  at  her 
meetings  with  her  brother  a  gentle  and  softer  light, 
and  who  at  one  time  is  invisible,  at  another  hangs  full- 
faced  above  the  earth,  ever  waxing  and  waning,  each 
phase  unlike  the  last.  You  will  see  five  stars,  moving 
in  the  opposite  direction  to  the  others,  stemming  the 
whirl  of  the  skies  towards  the  "West:  on  the  slightest 
motions  of  these  depend  the  fortunes  of  nations,  and 
according  as  the  aspect  of  the  planets  is  auspicious  or 
malignant,  the  greatest  empires  rise  and  fall  :  you  will  see 
with  wonder  the  gathering  clouds,  the  falling  showers,  the 
^  See  Mayor's  note  on  Juv.  i.,  and  above,  c.  16,  §  4. 


188  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

zigzag  lightning,  the  crashing  together  of  the  heavens. 
When,  sated  with  the  wonders  above,  you  turn  your  eyes 
towards  the  earth,  they  will  be  met  by  objects  of  a 
different  yet  equally  admirable  aspect:  on  one  side  a 
boundless  expanse  of  open  plains,  on  another  the  towering 
peaks  of  lofty  and  snow- clad  mountains :  the  downward 
course  of  rivers,  some  streams  running  eastward,  some 
westward  from  the  same  source :  the  woods  which  wave 
even  on  the  mountain  tops,  the  vast  forests  with  all  the 
creatures  that  dwell  therein,  and  the  confused  harmony  of 
the  birds :  the  variously-placed  cities,  the  nations  which 
natural  obstacles  keep  secluded  from  the  world,  some  of 
whom  withdraw  themselves  to  lofty  mountains,  while 
others  dwell  in  fear  and  trembling  on  the  sloping  banks  of 
rivers  :  the  crops  which  are  assisted  by  cultivation,  and 
the  trees  which  bear  fruit  even  without  it :  the  rivers  that 
flow  gently  through  the  meadows,  the  lovely  bays  and 
shores  that  curve  inwards  to  form  harbours :  the  countless 
islands  scattered  over  the  main,  which  break  and  spangle 
the  seas.  What  of  the  brilliancy  of  stones  and  gems,  the 
gold  that  rolls  amid  the  sands  of  rushing  streams,  the 
heaven-born  fires  that  burst  forth  from  the  midst  of  the 
earth  and  even  from  the  midst  of  the  sea  ;  the  ocean  itself, 
that  binds  land  to  land,  dividing  the  nations  by  its  three- 
fold indentations,  and  boiling  up  with  mighty  rage  ? 
Swimming  upon  its  waves,  making  them  disturbed  and 
swelling  without  wind,  you  will  see  animals  exceeding  the 
size  of  any  that  belong  to  the  land,  some  clumsy  and 
requiring  others  to  guide  their  movements,  some  swift  and 
moving  faster  than  the  utmost  efforts  of  rowers,  some 
of  them  that  drink  in  the  waters  and  blow  them  out  again 
to  the  great  perils  of  those  who  sail  near  them :  you  will 
see  here  ships  seeking  for  unknown  lands :  you  will  see 
that  man's  audacity  leaves  nothing  unattempted,  and  you 
will   yourself   be  both   a   witness  and  a  sharer  in  great 


CH.  XIX.]  OP   CONSOLATION.  189 

attempts.  You  will  both  learn  and  teach  the  arts  by 
which  men's  lives  are  supplied  with  necessaries,  are 
adorned,  and  are  ruled  :  but  in  this  same  place  there  will 
be  a  thousand  pestilences  fatal  to  both  body  and  mind, 
there  will  be  wars  and  highway  robberies,  poisonings  and 
shipwrecks,  extremes  of  climate  and  excesses  of  body,  un- 
timely griefs  for  our  dearest  ones,  and  death  for  ourselves, 
of  which  we  cannot  tell  whether  it  will  be  easy  or  by 
torture  at  the  hands  of  the  executioner.  Now  consider  and 
weigh  carefully  in  your  own  mind  which  you  would  choose. 
If  you  wish  to  enjoy  these  blessings  you  must  pass  through 
these  pains.  Do  you  answer  that  you  choose  to  live  ? 
'  Of  course.'  Nay,  I  thought  you  would  not  enter  upon 
that  of  which  the  least  diminution  causes  pain.  Live, 
then,  as  has  been  agreed  on.  You  say,  "No  one  has 
asked  my  opinion."  Our  parents'  opinion  was  taken  about 
us,  when,  knowing  what  the  conditions  of  life  are,  they 
brought  us  into  it. 

XIX.  But,  to  come  to  topics  of  consolation,  in  the  first 
place  consider  if  you  please  to  what  our  remedies  must  be 
applied,  and  next,  in  what  way.  It  is  regret  for  the 
absence  of  his  loved  one  which  causes  a  mourner  to  grieve : 
yet  it  is  clear  that  this  in  itself  is  bearable  enough  ;  for  we 
do  not  weep  at  their  being  absent  or  intending  to  be  absent 
during  their  lifetime,  although  when  they  leave  our  sight 
we  have  no  more  pleasure  in  them.  What  tortures  us, 
therefore,  is  an  idea.  Now  every  evil  is  just  as  great  as 
we  consider  it  to  be :  we  have,  therefore,  the  remedy 
in  our  own  hands.  Let  us  suppose  that  they  are  on  a 
journey,  and  let  us  deceive  ourselves :  we  have  sent  them 
away,  or,  rather,  we  have  sent  them  on  in  advance  to  a 
place  whither  we  shall  soon  follow  them.^  Besides  this, 
mourners  are  wont  to  suffer  from  the  thought,  "  I  shall 

^  Lipsius  points  out  that  this  idea  is  borrowed  from  the  comic  poet 
Antipbanes.     See  Meineke's  ''  Comic  Fragments,"  p.  3, 


190  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  YI. 

have  no  one  to  protect  me,  no  one  to  avenge  me  when  I  am 
scorned."  To  use  a  very  disreputable  but  very  true  mode 
of  consolation,  I  may  say  that  in  our  country  the  loss  of 
children  bestows  more  influence  than  it  takes  away,  and 
loneliness,  which  used  to  bring  the  aged  to  ruin,  now 
makes  them  so  powerful  that  some  old  men  have  pretended 
to  pick  quarrels  with  their  sons,  have  disowned  their  own 
children,  and  have  made  themselves  childless  by  their  own 
act.  I  know  what  you  will  say  :  "  My  own  losses  do  not 
grieve  me  : "  and  indeed  a  man  does  not  deserve  to  be  con- 
soled if  he  is  sorry  for  his  son's  death  as  he  would  be  for 
that  of  a  slave,  who  is  capable  of  seeing  anything  in  his 
son  beyond  his  son's  self.  What  then,  Marcia,  is  it  that 
grieves  you  ?  is  it  that  your  son  has  died,  or  that  he  did 
not  live  long  ?  If  it  be  his  having  died,  then  you  ought 
always  to  have  grieved,  for  you  always  knew  that  he  would 
die.  Reflect  that  the  dead  suffer  no  evils,  that  all  those 
stories  which  make  us  dread  the  nether  world  are  mere 
fables,  that  he  who  dies  need  fear  no  darkness,  no  prison, 
no  blazing  streams  of  fire,  no  river  of  Lethe,  no  judg- 
ment seat  before  which  he  must  appear,  and  that  Death  is 
such  utter  freedom  that  he  need  fear  no  more  despots.  All 
that  is  a  phantasy  of  the  poets,  who  have  terrified  us  with- 
out a  cause.  Death  is  a  release  from  and  an  end  of  all 
pains  :  beyond  it  our  sufferings  cannot  extend :  it  restores 
us  to  the  peaceful  rest  in  which  we  laj  before  we  were 
bom.  If  any  one  pities  the  dead,  he  ought  also  to  pity 
those  who  have  not  been  born.  Death  is  neither  a  good 
nor  a  bad  thing,  for  that  alone  which  is  something  can  be 
a  good  or  a  bad  thing:  but  that  which  is  nothing,  and 
reduces  all  things  to  nothing,  does  not  hand  us  over  to 
either  fortune,  because  good  and  bad  require  some  material 
to  work  upon.  Fortune  cannot  take  hold  of  that  which 
Nature  has  let  go,  nor  can  a  man  be  unhappy  if  he  is 
nothing.     Your  son  has  passed  beyond  the  border  of  the 


CH.  XX.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  191 

country  where  men  are  forced  to  labour ;  he  has  reached 
deep  and  everlasting  peace.  He  feels  no  fear  of  want,  no 
anxiety  about  his  riches,  no  stings  of  lust  that  tears  the 
heart  in  guise  of  pleasure  :  he  knows  no  envy  of  another's 
prosperity,  he  is  not  crushed  by  the  weight  of  his  own  ; 
even  his  chaste  ears  are  not  wounded  by  any  ribaldry  :  he 
is  menaced  by  no  disaster,  either  to  his  country  or  to 
himself.  He  does  not  hang,  full  of  anxiety,  upon  the  issue 
of  events,  to  reap  even  greater  uncertainty  as  his  reward  : 
he  has  at  last  taken  up  a  position  from  which  nothing  can 
dislodge  him,  where  nothing  can  make  him  afraid. 

XX.  0  how  little  do  men  understand  their  own  misery, 
that  they  do  not  praise  and  look  forward  to  death  as  the 
best  discovery  of  Nature,  whether  because  it  hedges  in 
happiness,  or  because  it  drives  away  misery :  because  it 
puts  an  end  to  the  sated  weariness  of  old  age,  cuts  down 
youth  in  its  bloom  while  still  full  of  hope  of  better  things, 
or  calls  home  childhood  before  the  harsher  stages  of  life 
are  reached :  it  is  the  end  of  all  men,  a  relief  to  many,  a 
desire  to  some,  and  it  treats  none  so  well  as  those  to  whom 
it  comes  before  they  call  for  it.  Death  frees  the  slave 
though  his  master  wills  it  not,  it  lightens  the  captive's 
chains :  it  leads  out  of  prison  those  whom  headstrong  power 
has  forbidden  to  quit  it :  it  points  out  to  exiles,  whose 
minds  and  eyes  are  ever  turned  towards  their  own  country, 
that  it  makes  no  difference  under  what  people's  soil  one  lies. 
When  Fortune  has  unjustly  divided  the  common  stock, 
and  has  given  over  one  man  to  another,  though  they  were 
bom  with  equal  rights,  Death  makes  them  all  equal. 
After  Death  no  one  acts  any  more  at  another's  bidding : 
in  death  no  man  suffers  any  more  from  the  sense  of  his 
low  position.  It  is  open  to  all  :  it  was  what  your 
father,  Marcia,  longed  for :  it  is  this,  I  say,  that  renders 
it  no  misery  to  be  born,  which  enables  me  to  face  the 
threatenings  of  misfortune  without  quailing,  and  to  keep 


h 


192  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

my  mind  unharmed  and  able  to  command  itself.  I 
have  a  last  appeal.  I  see  before  me  crosses  not  all 
alike,  bnt  differently  made  by  different  peoples :  some 
hang  a  man  head  downwards,  some  force  a  stick  upwards 
through  his  groin,  some  stretch  out  his  arms  on  a  forked 
gibbet.  I  see  cords,  scourges,  and  instruments  of  torture 
for  each  limb  and  each  joint :  but  I  see  Death  also.  There 
are  bloodthirsty  enemies,  there  are  overbearing  fellow- 
countrymen,  but  where  they  are  there  I  see  Death  also. 
Slavery  is  not  grievous  if  a  man  can  gain  his  freedom  by 
one  step  as  soon  as  he  becomes  tired  of  thraldom.  Life, 
it  is  thanks  to  Death  that  I  hold  thee  so  dear.  Think 
how  great  a  blessing  is  a  timely  death,  how  many  have 
been  injured  by  living  longer  than  they  ought.  If  sickness 
had  carried  off  that  glory  and  support  of  the  empire, 
Gnaeus  Pompeius,  at  Naples,  he  would  have  died  the 
undoubted  head  of  the  Roman  people,  but  as  it  was,  a  short 
extension  of  time  cast  him  down  from  his  pinnacle  of 
fame :  he  beheld  his  legions  slaughtered  before  his  eyes : 
and  what  a  sad  relic  of  that  battle,  in  which  the  Senate 
formed  the  first  line,  was  the  survival  of  the  general.  He 
saw  his  Egyptian  butcher,  and  offered  his  body,  hallowed 
by  so  many  victories,  to  a  guardsman's  sword,  although 
even  had  he  been  unhurt,  he  would  have  regretted  his 
safety :  for  what  could  have  been  more  infamous  than  that 
a  Pompeius  should  owe  his  life  to  the  clemency  of  a  king  ? 
If  Marcus  Cicero  had  fallen  at  the  time  when  he  avoided 
those  daggers  which  Catiline  aimed  equally  at  him  and  at 
his  country,  he  might  have  died  as  the  saviour  of  the 
commonwealth  which  he  had  set  free :  if  his  death  had 
even  followed  upon  that  of  his  daughter,  he  might  have 
died  happy.  He  would  not  then  have  seen  swords 
drawn  for  the  slaughter  of  Roman  citizens,  the  goods 
of  the  murdered  divided  among  the  murderers,  that 
men  might  pay  from  their  own  purse  the  price  of  their 


CH.  XXI.]  OF    CONSOLATION.  193 

own  blood,  the  public  auction  of  the  consul's  spoil  in  the 
civil  war,  the  public  letting  out  of  murder  to  be  done, 
brigandage,  war,  pillage,  hosts  of  Catilines.  "Would  it 
not  have  been  a  good  thing  for  Marcus  Cato  if  the  sea 
had  swallowed  him  up  when  he  was  returning  from 
Cyprus  after  sequestrating  the  king's  hereditary  posses- 
sions, even  if  that  very  money  which  he  was  bringing  to 
pay  the  soldiers  in  the  civil  war  had  been  lost  with  him  ? 
He  certainly  would  have  been  able  to  boast  that  no  one 
would  dare  to  do  wrong  in  the  presence  of  Cato  :  as  it  was, 
the  extension  of  his  life  for  a  very  few  more  years  forced 
one  who  was  born  for  personal  and  political  freedom  to 
flee  from  Caesar  and  to  become  Pompeius's  follower.  Pre- 
mature death  therefore  did  him  no  evil :  indeed,  it  put  an 
end  to  the  power  of  any  evil  to  hurt  him. 

XXI.  "  Yet,"  say  you,  "  he  perished  too  soon  and  un- 
timely." In  the  first  place,  suppose  that  he  had  lived  to 
extreme  old  age :  let  him  continue  alive  to  the  extreme 
limits  of  human  existence :  how  much  is  it  after  all  ? 
Born  for  a  very  brief  space  of  time,  we  regard  this  life  as 
an  inn  which  we  are  soon  to  quit  that  it  may  be  made 
ready  for  the  coming  guest.  Do  I  speak  of  our  lives, 
which  we  know  roll  away  incredibly  fast  ?  Reckon  up  the 
centuries  of  cities  :  you  will  find  that  even  those  which  boast 
of  their  antiquity  have  not  existed  for  long.  All  human 
works  are  brief  and  fleeting  ;  they  take  up  no  part  whatever 
of  infinite  time.  Tried  by  the  standard  of  the  universe, 
we  regard  this  earth  of  ours,  with  all  its  cities,  nations, 
rivers,  and  sea-board  as  a  mere  point :  our  life  occupies 
less  than  a  point  when  compared  with  all  time,  the  measure 
of  which  exceeds  that  of  the  world,  for  indeed  the  world  is 
contained  many  times  in  it.  Of  what  importance,  then,  can 
it  be  to  lengthen  that  which,  however  much  you  add  to  it, 
will  never  be  much  more  than  nothing  ?  We  can  only 
make  our  lives  long  by  one  expedient,  that  is,  by  being 

0 


194  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

satisfied  with  their  length :  you  may  tell  me  of  long-lived 
men,  whose  length  of  days  has  been  celebrated  by  tradi- 
tion, you  may  assign  a  hundred  and  ten  years  apiece  to 
them  :  yet  when  you  allow  your  mind  to  conceive  the  idea 
of  eternity,  there  will  be  no  difference  between  the  shortest 
and  the  longest  life,  if  you.  compare  the  time  during  which 
any  one  has  been  alive  with  that  during  which  he  has  not 
been  alive.  In  the  next  place,  when  he  died  his  life  was 
complete :  he  had  lived  as  long  as  he  needed  to  live :  there 
was  nothing  left  for  him  to  accomplish.  All  men  do  not 
grow  old  at  the  same  age,  nor  indeed  do  all  animals :  some 
are  wearied  out  by  life  at  fourteen  years  of  age,  and  what 
is  only  the  first  stage  of  life  with  man  is  their  extreme 
limit  of  longevity.  To  each  man  a  varying  length  of  days 
has  been  assigned :  no  one  dies  before  his  time,  because  he 
was  not  destined  to  live  any  longer  than  he  did.  Every- 
one's end  is  fixed,  and  will  always  remain  where  it  has 
been  placed :  neither  industry  nor  favour  will  move  it  on 
any  further.  Believe,  then,  that  you  lost  him  by  advice  : 
he  took  all  that  was  his  own, 

"  And  reached  the  goal  allotted  to  his  life," 

so  you  need  not  burden  yourself  with  the  thought,  "  He 
might  have  lived  longer."  His  life  has  not  been  cut  short, 
nor  does  chance  ever  cut  short  our  years :  every  man  re- 
ceives as  much  as  was  promised  to  him  :  the  Fates  go  their 
own  way,  and  neither  add  anything  nor  take  away  any- 
thing from  what  they  have  once  promised.  Prayers  and 
endeavours  are  all  in  vain :  each  man  will  have  as  much  life 
as  his  first  day  placed  to  his  credit:  from  the  time  when  he 
first  saw  the  light  he  has  entered  on  the  path  that  leads  to 
death,  and  is  drawing  nearer  to  his  doom  :  those  same  years 
which  were  added  to  his  youth  were  subtracted  from  his 
life.  We  all  fall  into  this  mistake  of  supposing  that  it  is 
only  old  men,  already  in  the  decline  of  life,  who  are  drawing 


CH.  XXII.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  195 

near  to  death,  whereas  our  first  infancy,  our  youth,  indeed 
every  time  of  life  leads  thither.  The  Fates  ply  their  own 
work :  they  take  from  us  the  consciousness  of  our  death, 
and,  the  better  to  conceal  its  approaches,  death  lurks  under 
the  very  names  we  give  to  life :  infancy  changes  into  boy- 
hood, maturity  swallows  up  the  boy,  old  age  the  man.. 
these  stages  themselves,  if  you  reckon  them  properly,  are 
so  many  losses. 

XXII.  Do  you  complain,  Marcia,  that  your  son  did  not 
live  as  long  as  he  might  have  done  ?  How  do  you  know 
that  it  was  to  his  advantage  to  live  longer?  whether  his 
interest  was  not  served  by  this  death  ?  Whom  can  you 
findat  the  present  time  whose  fortunes  are  grounded  on  such 
sure  foundations  that  they  have  nothing  to  fear  in  the 
future  ?  All  human  affairs  are  evanescent  and  perishable, 
nor  is  any  part  of  our  life  so  frail  and  liable  to  accident  as 
that  which  we  especially  enjoy.  We  ought,  therefore,  to 
pray  for  death  when  our  fortune  is  at  its  best,  because  so 
great  is  the  uncertainty  and  turmoil  in  which  we  live,  that 
we  can  be  sure  of  nothing  but  what  is  past.  Think  of 
your  son's  handsome  person,  which  you  had  guarded  in 
perfect  purity  among  all  the  temptations  of  a  voluptuous 
capital.  Who  could  have  undertaken  to  keep  that  clear  of 
all  diseases,  so  that  it  might  preserve  its  beauty  of  form 
unimpaired  even  to  old  age  ?  Think  of  the  many  taints 
of  the  mind :  for  fine  dispositions  do  not  always  con- 
tinue to  their  life's  end  to  make  good  the  promise  of 
their  youth,  but  have  often  broken  down :  either  ex- 
travagance, all  the  more  shameful  for  being  indulged  in 
late  in  life,  takes  possession  of  men  and  makes  their  well- 
begun  lives  end  in  disgrace,  or  they  devote  their  entire 
thoughts  to  the  eating-house  and  the  belly,  and  they  become 
interested  in  nothing  save  what  they  shall  eat  and  what 
they  shall  drink.  Add  to  this  conflagrations,  falling  houses, 
shipwrecks,  the  agonizing  operations  of  surgeons,  who  cut 


196  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

pieces  of  bone  out  of  men's  living  bodies,  plange  their 
whole  hands  into  their  entrails,  and  inflict  more  than  one 
kind  of  pain  to  effect  the  cure  of  shameful  diseases.  After 
these  comes  exile;  your  son  was  not  more  innocent  than 
Rutilius  :  imprisonment ;  he  was  not  wiser  than  Socrates  : 
the  piercing  of  one's  breast  by  a  self-inflicted  wound ;  he 
was  not  of  holier  life  than  Cato.  When  you  look  at  these 
examples,  you  will  perceive  that  nature  deals  very  kindly 
with  those  whom  she  puts  speedily  in  a  place  of  safety 
because  there  awaited  them  the  payment  of  some  such 
price  as  this  for  their  lives.  Nothing  is  so  deceptive, 
nothing  is  so  treacherous  as  human  life ;  by  Hercules,  were 
it  not  given  to  men  before  they  could  form  an  opinion,  no 
one  would  take  it,  Not  to  be  born,  therefore,  is  the 
happiest  lot  of  all,  and  the  nearest  thing  to  this,  I  imagine, 
is  that  we  should  soon  finish  our  strife  here  and  be  restored 
again  to  our  former  rest.  Recall  to  your  mind  that  time, 
so  painful  to  you,  during  which  Sejanus  handed  over  your 
father  as  a  present  to  his  client  Satrius  Secundus  :  he  was 
angry  with  him  about  something  or  other  which  he  had 
said  with  too  great  freedom,  because  he  was  not  able  to 
keep  silence  and  see  Sejanus  climbing  up  to  take  his  seat 
upon  our  necks,  which  would  have  been  bad  enough  had 
he  been  placed  there  by  his  master.  He  was  decreed  the 
honour  of  a  statue,  to  be  set  up  in  the  theatre  of  Pompeius, 
which  had  been  burned  down  and  was  being  restored  by 
Caesar.  Cordus  exclaimed  that "  Now  the  theatre  was  really 
destroyed."  What  then  ?  should  he  not  burst  with  spite  at 
a  Sejanus  being  set  up  over  the  ashes  of  Gnaeus  Pompeius, 
at  a  faithless  soldier  being  commemorated  within,  the 
memorial  of  a  consummate  commander  ? 

The  inscription  was  put  up :  ^    and  those  keen-scented 

^  This  I  believe  to  be  the  meaning  of  the  text,  but  Koch  reasonably 
conjectures  that  the  true  reading  is  "  editur  subscriptio,'*  "  an  indict- 
ment was  made  out  against  him."     See  "On  Benefits,"  iii.  26, 


CH.  XXII.]  OF    CONSOLATION.  197 

honnds  whom  Sejanus  used  to  feed  on  human  blood,  to 
make  them  tame  towards  himself  and  fierce  to  all  the 
world  beside,  began  to  bay  around  their  victim  and  even 
to  make  premature  snaps  at  him.  What  was  he  to  do  ? 
If  he  chose  to  live,  he  must  gain  the  consent  of  Sejanus ; 
if  to  die,  he  must  gain  that  of  his  daughter ;  and  neither  of 
them  could  have  been  persuaded  to  grant  it :  he  therefore 
determined  to  deceive  his  daughter,  and  having  taken  a 
bath  in  order  to  weaken  himself  still  further,  he  retired  to 
his  bed-chamber  on  the  pretence  of  taking  a  meal  there. 
After  dismissing  his  slaves  he  threw  some  of  the  food  out 
of  the  window,  that  he  might  appear  to  have  eaten  it :  then 
he  took  no  supper,  making  the  excuse  that  he  had  already 
had  enough  food  in  his  chamber.  This  he  continued  to  do 
on  the  second  and  the  third  day :  the  fourth  betrayed  his 
condition  by  his  bodily  weakness ;  so,  embracing  you, 
"  My  dearest  daughter,"  said  he,  "  from  whom  I  have 
never  throughout  your  whole  life  concealed  aught  but  this, 
I  have  begun  my  journey  towards  death,  and  have  already 
travelled  half-way  thither.  You  cannot  and  you  ought  not 
to  call  me  back."  So  saying  he  ordered  all  light  to  be 
excluded  from  the  room  and  shut  himself  up  in  the  dark- 
ness. When  his  determination  became  known  there  was  a 
general  feeling  of  pleasure  at  the  prey  being  snatched 
out  of  the  jaws  of  those  ravening  wolves.  His  prosecutors, 
at  the  instance  of  Sejanus,  went  to  the  judgment-seat  of 
the  consuls,  complained  that  Cordus  was  dying,  and  begged 
the  consuls  to  interpose  to  prevent  his  doing  what  they 
themselves  had  driven  him  to  do  ;  so  true  was  it  that 
Cordus  appeared  to  them  to  be  escaping :  an  important 
matter  was  at  stake,  namely,  whether  the  accused  should 
lose  the  right  to  die.  While  this  point  was  being  debated, 
and  the  prosecutors  were  going  to  attend  the  court  a 
second  time,  he  had  set  himself  free  from  them.  Do  you 
see,  Marcia,  how  suddenly  evil  days  come  upon  a  man  ? 


198  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

and  do  you  weep  because  one  of  your  family  could  not 
avoid  dying  ?  one  of  your  family  was  within  a  very  little 
of  not  being  allowed  to  die. 

XXIII.  Besides  the  fact  that  everything  that  is  future 
is  uncertain,  and  the  only  certainty  is  that  it  is  more  likely 
to  turn  out  ill  than  well,  our  spirits  find  the  path  to  the 
Gods  above  easiest  when  it  is  soon  allowed  to  leave  the 
society  of  mankind,  because  it  has  then  contracted  fewest 
impurities  to  weigh  it  down :  if  set  free  before  they  become 
hardened  worldlings,  before  earthly  things  have  sunk  too 
deep  into  them,  they  fly  all  the  more  lightly  back  to  the 
place  from  whence  they  came,  and  all  the  more  easily  wash 
away  the  stains  and  defilements  which  they  may  have  con- 
tracted. Great  minds  never  love  to  linger  long  in  the 
body :  they  are  eager  to  burst  its  bonds  and  escape  from 
it,  they  chafe  at  the  narrowness  of  their  prison,  having 
been  wont  to  wander  through  space,  and  from  aloft  in  the 
upper  air  to  look  down  with  contempt  upon  human  affairs. 
Hence  it  is  that  Plato  declares  that  the  wise  man's  mind  is 
entirely  given  up  to  death,  longs  for  it,  contemplates  it, 
and  through  his  eagerness  for  it  is  always  striving  after 
things  which  lie  beyond  this  life.  Why,  Marcia,  when  you 
saw  him  while  yet  young  displaying  the  wisdom  of  age, 
with  a  mind  that  could  rise  superior  to  all  sensual  enjoy- 
ments, faultless  and  without  a  blemish,  able  to  win  riches 
without  greediness,  public  office  without  ambition,  pleasure 
without  extravagance,  did  you  suppose  it  would  long  be 
your  lot  to  keep  him  safe  by  your  side  ?  Whatever  has 
arrived  at  perfection,  is  ripe  for  dissolution.  Consummate 
virtue  flees  away  and  betakes  itself  out  of  our  sight,  and 
those  things  which  come  to  maturity  in  the  first  stage  of 
their  being  do  not  wait  for  the  last.  The  brighter  a  fire 
glows,  the  sooner  it  goes  out :  it  lasts  longer  when  it  is 
made  up  with  bad  and  slowly  burning  fuel,  and  shows  a 
dull  light  through  a  cloud  of  smoke :  its  being  poorly  fed 


CH.  XXIV.]  OF    CONSOLATION.  199 

makes  it  linger  all  the  longer.  So  also  the  more  brilliant 
men's  minds,  the  shorter  lived  they  are  :  for  when  there  is 
no  room  for  further  growth,  the  end  is  near.  Fabianus 
tells  us,  what  our  parents  themselves  have  seen,  that  there 
was  at  Rome  a  boy  of  gigantic  stature,  exceeding  that  of  a 
man :  but  he  soon  died,  and  every  sensible  person  always 
said  that  he  would  soon  die,  for  he  could  not  live  to  reach 
the  age  which  he  had  assumed  before  it  was  due.  So  it  is: 
too  complete  maturity  is  a  proof  that  destruction  is  near, 
and  the  end  approaches  when  growth  is  over. 

XXIY.  Begin  to  reckon  his  age,  not  by  years,  but  by 
virtues :  he  lived  long  enough.  He  was  left  as  a  ward  in 
the  care  of  guardians  up  to  his  fourteenth  year,  and  never 
passed  out  of  that  of  his  mother  :  when  he  had  a  household 
of  his  own  he  was  loth  to  leave  yours,  and  continued  to 
dwell  under  his  mother's  roof,  though  few  sons  can  endure 
to  live  under  their  father's.  Though  a  youth  whose  height, 
beauty,  and  vigour  of  body  destined  him  for  the  army,  yet 
he  refused  to  serve,  that  he  might  not  be  separated  from 
you.  Consider,  Marcia,  how  seldom  mothers  who  live  in 
separate  houses  see  their  children  :  consider  how  they  lose 
and  pass  in  anxiety  all  those  years  during  which  they  have 
sons  in  the  army,  and  you  will  see  that  this  time,  none  of 
which  you  lost,  was  of  considerable  extent :  he  never  went 
out  of  your  sight :  it  was  under  your  eyes  that  he  applied 
himself  to  the  cultivation  of  an  admirable  intellect  and  one 
which  would  have  rivalled  that  of  his  grandfather,  had  it 
not  been  hindered  by  shyness,  which  has  concealed  many 
men's  accomplishments:  though  a  youth  of  unusual  beauty, 
and  living  among  such  throngs  of  women  who  made  it  their 
business  to  seduce  men,  he  gratified  the  wishes  of  none  of 
them,  and  when  the  effrontery  of  some  led  them  so  far  aS 
actually  to  tempt  him,  he  blushed  as  deeply  at  having 
found  favour  in  their  eyes  as  though  he  had  been  guilty. 
By  this  holiness  of  life  he  caused  himself,  while  yet  quite  a 


200  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  VI. 

boy,  to  be  thought  worthy  of  the  priesthood,  which  no 
doubt  he  owed  to  his  mother's  influence;  but  even  his 
mother's  influence  would  have  had  no  weight  if  the  candi- 
date for  whom  it  was  exerted  had  been  unfit  for  the  post. 
Dwell  upon  these  virtues,  and  nurse  your  son  as  it  were  in 
your  lap :  now  he  is  more  at  leisure  to  respond  to  your 
caresses,  he  has  nothing  to  call  him  away  from  you,  he 
will  never  be  an  anxiety  or  a  sorrow  to  you.  You  have 
grieved  at  the  only  grief  so  good  a  son  could  cause  you  : 
all  else  is  beyond  the  power  of  fortune  to  harm,  and  is  full 
of  pleasure,  if  only  you  know  how  to  make  use  of  your  son, 
if  you  do  but  know  what  his  most  precious  quality  was. 
It  is  merely  the  outward  semblance  of  your  son  that  has 
perished,  his  likeness,  and  that  not  a  very  good  one ;  he 
himself  is  immortal,  and  is  now  in  a  far  better  state,  set 
free  from  the  burden  of  all  that  was  not  his  own,  and  left 
simply  by  himself  :  all  this  apparatus  which  you  see  about 
us  of  bones  and  sinews,  this  covering  of  skin,  this  face, 
these  our  servants  the  hands,  and  all  the  rest  of  our  environ- 
ment, are  but  chains  and  darkness  to  the  soul :  they  over- 
whelm it,  choke  it,  corrupt  it,  fill  it  with  false  ideas,  and 
keep  it  at  a  distance  from  its  own  true  sphere :  it  has  to 
struggle  continually  against  this  burden  of  the  flesh,  lest 
it  be  dragged  down  and  sunk  by  it.  It  ever  strives  to 
rise  up  again  to  the  place  from  whence  it  was  sent  down 
on  earth :  there  eternal  rest  awaits  it,  there  it  will  behold 
what  is  pure  and  clear,  in  place  of  what  is  foul  and  turbid. 
XXY.  You  need  not,  therefore,  hasten  to  the  burial- 
place  of  your  son  :  that  which  lies  there  is  but  the  worst 
part  of  him  and  that  which  gave  him  most  trouble,  only 
bones  and  ashes,  which  are  no  more  parts  of  him  than 
clothes  or  other  coverings  of  his  body.  He  is  complete, 
and  without  leaving  any  part  of  himself  behind  on  earth 
has  taken  wing  and  gone  away  altogether :  he  has  tarried 
a  brief  space  above  us  while  his  soul  was  being  cleansed 


CH.  XXVI.]  OF  CONSOLATION.  201 

and  purified  from  the  vices  and  rust  which  all  mortal 
lives  must  contract,  and  from  thence  he  will  rise  to 
the  high  heavens  and  join  the  souls  of  the  blessed  :  a 
saintly  company  will  welcome  him  thither, — Scipios  and 
Catos  ;  and  among  the  rest  of  those  who  have  held  life 
cheap  and  set  themselves  free,  thanks  to  death,  albeit 
all  there  are  alike  akin,  your  father,  Marcia,  will  embrace 
his  grandson  as  he  rejoices  in  the  unwonted  light,  will 
teach  him  the  motion  of  the  stars  which  are  so  near  to 
them,  and  introduce  him  with  joy  into  all  the  secrets  of 
nature,  not  by  guesswork  but  by  real  knowledge.  Even 
as  a  stranger  is  grateful  to  one  who  shows  him  the  way 
about  an  unknown  city,  so  is  a  searcher  after  the  causes  of 
what  he  sees  in  the  heavens  to  one  of  his  own  family  who 
can  explain  them  to  him.  He  will  delight  in  gazing  deep 
down  upon  the  earth,  for  it  is  a  delight  to  look  from  aloft 
at  what  one  has  left  below.  Bear  yourself,  therefore, 
Marcia,  as  though  you  were  placed  before  the  eyes  of  your 
father  and  your  son,  yet  not  such  as  you  knew  them,  but 
far  loftier  beings,  placed  in  a  higher  sphere.  Blush,  then, 
to  do  any  mean  or  common  action,  or  to  weep  for  those 
your  relatives  who  have  been  changed  for  the  better. 
Free  to  roam  through  the  open,  boundless  realms  of  the 
everliving  universe,  they  are  not  hindered  in  their  course 
by  intervening  seas,  lofty  mountains,  impassable  valleys, 
or  the  treacherous  flats  of  the  Syrtes  :  they  find  a  level 
path  everywhere,  are  swift  and  ready  of  motion,  and  are 
permeated  in  their  turn  by  the  stars  and  dwell  together 
with  them. 

XXVI.  Imagine  then,  Marcia,  that  your  father,  whose 
influence  over  you  was  as  great  as  yours  over  your  son,  no 
longer  in  that  frame  of  mind  in  which  he  deplored  the 
civil  wars,  or  in  which  he  for  ever  proscribed  those  who 
would  have  proscribed  him,  but  in  a  mood  as  much  more 
joyful  as  his  abode  now  is  higher  than  of  old,  is  saying,  as 


L 


202  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VI. 

he  looks  down  from  the  height  of  heaven,  "  My  daughter, 
why  does  this  sorrow  possess  you  for  so  long?  why  do  you 
live  in  such  ignorance  of  the  truth,  as  to  think  that  your 
son  has  been  unfairly  dealt  with  because  he  has  returned  to 
his  ancestors  in  his  prime,  without  decay  of  body  or  mind, 
leaving  his  family  flourishing  ?  Do  you  not  know  with 
what  storms  Fortune  unsettles  everything  ?  how  she  proves 
kind  and  compliant  to  none  save  to  those  who  have  the 
fewest  possible  dealings  with  her  ?  Need  I  remind  you  of 
kings  who  would  have  been  the  happiest  of  mortals  had 
death  sooner  withdrawn  them  from  the  ruin  which  was 
approaching  them  ?  or  of  Roman  generals,  whose  greatness, 
had  but  a  few  years  been  taken  from  their  lives,  would 
have  wanted  nothing  to  render  it  complete  ?  or  of  men  of 
the  highest  distinction  and  noblest  birth  who  have  calmly 
offered  their  necks  to  the  stroke  of  a  soldier's  sword  ? 
Look  at  your  father  and  your  grandfather  :  the  former  fell 
into  the  hands  of  a  foreign  murderer :  I  allowed  no  man 
to  take  any  liberties  with  me,  and  by  abstinence  from  food 
showed  that  my  spirit  was  as  great  as  my  writings  had  re- 
presented it.  Why,  then,  should  that  member  of  our  house- 
hold who  died  most  happily  of  all  be  mourned  in  it  the 
longest  ?  We  have  all  assembled  together,  and,  not  being 
plunged  in  utter  darkness,  we  see  that  with  you  on  earth 
there  is  nothing  to  be  wished  for,  nothing  grand  or  magni- 
ficent, but  all  is  mean,  sad,  anxious,  and  hardly  receives  a 
fractional  part  of  the  clear  light  in  which  we  dwell.  I 
need  not  say  that  here  are  no  frantic  charges  of  rival 
armies,  no  fleets  shattering  one  another,  no  parricides, 
actual  or  meditated,  no  courts  where  men  babble  over  law- 
suits for  days  together,  here  is  nothing  underhand,  all 
hearts  and  minds  are  open  and  unveiled,  our  life  is  public 
and  known  to  all,  and  that  we  command  a  view  of  all  time 
and  of  things  to  come.  I  used  to  take  pleasure  in  com- 
piling the  history  of  what  took  place  in  one  century  among 


CH.  XXVI.]  OF   CONSOLATION.  203 

a  few  people  in  the  most  out-of-the-way  comer  of  the 
world :  here  I  enjoy  the  spectacle  of  all  the  centuries,  the 
whole  chain  of  events  from  age  to  age  as  long  as  years 
have  been.  I  may  view  kingdoms  when  they  rise  and 
when  they  fall,  and  behold  the  ruin  of  cities  and  the  new 
channels  made  by  the  sea.  If  it  will  be  any  consolation  to 
you  in  your  bereavement  to  know  that  it  is  the  common 
lot  of  all,  be  assured  that  nothing  will  continue  to  stand  in 
the  place  in  which  it  now  stands,  but  that  time  will  lay 
everything  low  and  bear  it  away  with  itself  :  it  will  sport, 
not  only  with  men — for  how  small  a  part  are  they  of  the 
dominion  of  Fortune  ?  —  but  with  districts,  provinces, 
quarters  of  the  world  :  at  will  efface  entire  mountains,  and 
in  other  places  will  pile  new  rocks  on  high  :  it  will  dry  up 
seas,  change  the  course  of  rivers,  destroy  the  intercourse 
of  nation  with  nation,  and  break  up  the  communion  and 
fellowship  of  the  human  race :  in  other  regions  it  will 
swallow  up  cities  by  opening  vast  chasms  in  the  earth, 
will  shake  them  with  earthquakes,  will  breathe  forth  pesti- 
lence from  the  nether  world,  cover  all  habitable  ground 
with  inundations  and  destroy  every  creature  in  the  flooded 
world,  or  burn  up  all  mortals  by  a  huge  conflagration. 
When  the  time  shall  arrive  for  the  world  to  be  brought  to 
an  end,  that  it  may  begin  its  life  anew,  all  the  forces  of 
nature  will  perish  in  conflict  with  one  another,  the  stars 
will  be  dashed  together,  and  all  the  lights  which  now  gleam 
in  regular  order  in  various  parts  of  the  sky  will  then  blaze 
in  one  fire  with  all  their  fuel  burning  at  once.  Then  we 
also,  the  souls  of  the  blest  and  the  heirs  of  eternal  life, 
whenever  God  thinks  fit  to  reconstruct  the  universe,  when 
all  things  are  settling  down  again,  we  also,  being  a  small 
accessory  to  the  universal  wreck, ^  shall  be  changed  into  our 
old  elements.  Happy  is  your  son,  Marcia,  in  that  he  already 
knows  this." 

'  Huinae ;  Koch's  urinae  is  a  misprint. 


204 


THE   SEVENTH  BOOK   OF   THE   DIALOGUES 

OF     L.    ANNAEUS     SENECA, 

ADDRESSED    TO    GALLIC. 

OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE. 


A  LL  men,  brother  Gallio,  wish  to  live  happily,  but  are 
"^  ^  dull  at  perceiving  exactly  what  it  is  that  makes  life 
happy :  and  so  far  is  it  from  being  easy  to  attain  to 
happiness  that  the  more  eagerly  a  man  struggles  to 
reach  it  the  further  he  departs  from  it,  if  he  takes  the 
wrong  road ;  for,  since  this  leads  in  the  opposite  direction, 
his  very  swiftness  carries  him  all  the  further  away.  We 
must  therefore  first  define  clearly  what  it  is  at  which  we 
aim :  next  we  must  consider  by  what  path  we  may  most 
speedily  reach  it,  for  on  our  journey  itself,  provided  it  be 
made  in  the  right  direction,  we  shall  learn  how  much 
progress  we  have  made  each  day,  and  how  much  nearer  we 
are  to  the  goal  towards  which  our  natural  desires  urge  us. 
But  as  long  as  we  wander  at  random,  not  following  any 
guide  except  the  shouts  and  discordant  clamours  of  those 
who  invite  us  to  proceed  in  different  directions,  our  short 
life  will  be  wasted  in  useless  roamings,  even  if  we  labour 
both  day  and  night  to  get  a  good  understanding.  Let  us  not 
therefore  decide  whither  we  must  tend,  and  by  what  path, 
without  the  advice  of  some  experienced  person  who  has  ex- 
plored the  region  which  we  are  about  to  enter,  because  this 


CH.  I.]  OF    A  HAPPY   LIFE.  205 

journey  is  not  subject  to  the  same  conditions  as  others  ; 
for  in  them  some  distinctly  understood  track  and  inquiries 
made  of  the  natives  make  it  impossible  for  us  to  go  wrong, 
but  here  the  most  beaten  and  frequented  tracks  are  those 
which  lead  us  most  astray.  Nothing,  therefore,  is  more 
important  than  that  we  should  not,  like  sheep,  follow  the 
flock  that  has  gone  before  us,  and  thus  proceed  not  whither 
we  ought,  but  whither  the  rest  are  going.  Now  nothing 
gets  us  into  greater  troubles  than  our  subservience  to 
common  rumour,  and  our  habit  of  thinking  that  those 
things  are  best  which  are  most  generally  received  as  such, 
of  taking  many  counterfeits  for  truly  good  things,  and  of 
living  not  by  reason  but  by  imitation  of  others.  This  is 
the  cause  of  those  great  heaps  into  which  men  rush  till 
they  are  piled  one  upon  another.  In  a  great  crash  of 
people,  when  the  crowd  presses  upon  itself,  no  one  can 
fall  without  drawing  some  one  else  down  upon  him,  and 
those  who  go  before  cause  the  destruction  of  those  who 
follow  them.  You  may  observe  the  same  thing  in  human 
life  :  no  one  can  merely  go  wrong  by  himself,  but  he  must 
become  both  the  cause  and  adviser  of  another's  wrong- 
doing. It  is  harmful  to  follow  the  march  of  those  who  go 
before  us,  and  since  every  one  had  rather  believe  another 
than  form  his  own  opinion,  we  never  pass  a  deliberate 
judgment  upon  life,  but  some  traditional  error  always 
entangles  us  and  brings  us  to  ruin,  and  we  perish  because 
we  follow  other  men's  examples  :  we  should  be  cured  of 
this  if  we  were  to  disengage  ourselves  from  the  herd  ;  but 
as  it  is,  the  mob  is  ready  to  fight  against  reason  in  defence 
of  its  own  mistake.  Consequently  the  same  thing  happens 
as  at  elections,  where,  when  the  fickle  breeze  of  popular 
favour  has  veered  round,  those  who  have  been  chosen 
consuls  and  praetors  are  viewed  with  admiration  by  the 
very  men  who  made  them  so.  That  we  should  all  approve 
and  disapprove  of  the  same  things  is  the  end  of  every 


206  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

decision    which   is   given   according  to  the  voice  of   the 
majority. 

II.  When  we  are  considering  a  happy  life,  you  cannot 
answer  me  as  though  after  a  division  of  the  House,  *'  This 
view  has  most  supporters  ;  "  because  for  that  very  reason 
it  is  the  worse  of  the  two  :  matters  do  not  stand  so  well 
with  mankind  that  the  majority  should  prefer  the  better 
course  :  the  more  people  do  a  thing  the  worse  it  is  likely  to 
be.  Let  us  therefore  inquire,  not  what  is  most  commonly 
done,  but  what  is  best  for  us  to  do,  and  what  will  establish 
us  in  the  possession  of  undying  happiness,  not  vrhat  is 
approved  of  by  the  vulgar,  the  worst  possible  exponents  of 
truth.  By  "  the  vulgar "  I  mean  both  those  who  wear 
woollen  cloaks  and  those  who  wear  crowns ;  ^  for  I  do 
not  regard  the  colour  of  the  clothes  with  which  they  are 
covered  :  I  do  not  trust  my  eyes  to  tell  me  what  a  man  is  : 
I  have  a  better  and  more  trustworthy  light  by  which  I  can 
distinguish  what  is  true  from  what  is  false  :  let  the  mind 
find  out  what  is  good  for  the  mind.  If  a  man  ever  allows 
his  mind  some  breathing  space  and  has  leisure  for  com- 
muning with  himself,  what  truths  he  will  confess  to 
himself,  after  having  been  put  to  the  torture  by  his  own 
self !  He  will  say,  *'  Whatever  I  have  hitherto  done  I 
wish  were  undone  ;  when  I  think  over  what  I  have  said,  I 
envy  dumb  people:  whatever  I  have  longed  for  seems  to 
have  been  what  my  enemies  would  pray  might  befall  me  : 
good  heaven,  how  far  more  endurable  what  I  have  feared 
seems  to  be  than  what  I  have  lusted  after.  I  have  been  at 
enmity  with  many  men,  and  have  changed  my  dislike  of 
them  into  friendship,  if  friendship  can  exist  between  bad 
men :  yet  I  have  not  yet  become  reconciled  to  myself.  I 
have  striven  with  all  my  strength  to  raise  myself  above  the 

^  Lipsius's  conjecture,  "  those  who  are  dressed  in  white  as  well  as 
those  who  are  dressed  in  coloured  clothes,"  alluding  to  the  white  robes 
of  candidates  for  office,  seems  reasonable. 


CH.  III.]  OF   A  HAPPY  LIFE.  207 

common  herd,  and  to  make  myself  remarkable  for  some 
talent  :  what  have  I  effected  save  to  make  myself  a  mark 
for  the  arrows  of  my  enemies,  and  show  those  who  hate  me 
where  to  wound  me  ?  Do  you  see  those  who  praise  your 
eloquence,  who  covet  your  wealth,  who  court  your  favour, 
or  who  vaunt  your  power  ?  All  these  either  are,  or,  which 
comes  to  the  same  thing,  may  be  your  enemies  :  the 
number  of  those  who  envy  you  is  as  great  as  that  of  those 
who  admire  you  ;  why  do  I  not  rather  seek  for  some  good 
thing  which  I  can  use  and  feel,  not  one  which  I  can  show  ? 
these  good  things  which  men  gaze  at  in  wonder,  which 
they  crowd  to  see,  which  one  points  out  to  another  with 
speechless  admiration,  are  outwardly  brilliant,  but  within 
are  miseries  to  those  who  possess  them." 

III.  Let  us  seek  for  some  blessing,  which  does  not 
merely  look  fine,  but  is  sound  and  good  throughout  alike, 
and  most  beautiful  in  the  parts  which  are  least  seen  :  let  us 
unearth  this.  It  is  not  far  distant  from  us  ;  it  can  be  dis- 
covered :  all  that  is  necessary  is  to  know  whither  to  stretch 
out  your  hand  :  but,  as  it  is,  we  behave  as  though  we  were 
in  the  dark,  and  reach  out  beyond  what  is  nearest  to  us, 
striking  as  we  do  so  against  the  very  things  that  we  want. 
However,  that  I  may  not  draw  you  into  digressions,  I  will 
pass  over  the  opinions  of  other  philosophers,  because  it 
would  take  a  long  time  to  state  and  confute  them  all :  take 
ours.  When,  however,  I  say  "  ours,"  I  do  not  bind  myself 
to  any  one  of  the  chiefs  of  the  Stoic  school,  for  I  too  have 
a  right  to  form  my  own  opinion.  I  shall,  therefore,  follow 
the  authority  of  some  of  them,  but  shall  ask  some  others  to 
discriminate  their  meaning :  ^    perhaps,  when  after  having 

^  The  Latin  words  are  literally  "  to  divide  "  their  vote,  that  is,  "  to 
separate  things  of  different  kinds  comprised  in  a  single  vote  so  that  they 
might  be  voted  for  separately." — Andrews. 

S^neque  fait  allusion  ici  Ji  une  coutume  pratiquee  dans  les  assemblees 
du  Senat;  et  il  nous  I'explique  lui-meme  ailleurs  d'uu  maniere  tresclaire: 


208  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

reported  all  their  opinions,  I  am  asked  for  my  own,  I  shall 
impugn  none  of  my  predecessors'  decisions,  and  shall  say, 
"  I  will  also  add  somewhat  to  them."  Meanwhile  I  follow 
nature,  which  is  a  point  upon  which  every  one  of  the  Stoic 
philosophers  are  agreed :  true  wisdom  consists  in  not 
departing  from  nature  and  in  moulding  our  conduct 
according  to  her  laws  and  model.  A  happy  life,  therefore, 
is  one  which  is  in  accordance  with  its  own  nature,  and 
cannot  be  brought  about  unless  in  the  first  place  the  mind 
be  sound  and  remain  so  without  interruption,  and  next,  be 
bold  and  vigorous,  enduring  all  things  with  most  admirable 
courage,  suited  to  the  times  in  which  it  lives,  careful  of  the 
body  and  its  appurtenances,  yet  not  troublesomely  careful. 
It  must  also  set  due  value  upon  all  the  things  which  adorn 
our  lives,  without  over-estimating  any  one  of  them,  and 
must  be  able  to  enjoy  the  bounty  of  Fortune  without 
becoming  her  slave.  You  understand  without  my  men- 
tioning it  that  an  unbroken  calm  and  freedom  ensue,  when 
we  have  driven  away  all  those  things  which  either  excite 
us  or  alarm  us  :  for  in  the  place  of  sensual  pleasures  and 
and  those  slight  perishable  matters  which  are  connected 
with  the  basest  crimes,  we  thus  gain  an  immense,  un- 
changeable, equable  joy,  together  with  peace,  calmness  and 
greatness  of  mind,  and  kindliness  :  for  all  savageness  is  a 
sign  of  weakness. 

IV.  Our  highest  good  may  also  be  defined  otherwise, 
that  is  to  say,  the  same  idea  may  be  expressed  in  different 
language.  Just  as  the  same  army  may  at  one  time  be 
extended  more  widely,  at  another  contracted  into  a  smaller 
compass,  and  may  either  be  curved  towards  the  wings  by  a 
depression  in  the  line  of  the  centre,  or  drawn  up  in  a 
straight  line,  while,  in  whatever  figure  it  be  arrayed,  its 

"  Si  quelqu'un  dans  le  Senat,"  dit  il,  "  ouvre  un  avis,  dont  une  partieme 
convienne,  je  le  somme  de  la  detacher  du  reste,  et  j'y  adhere." — Ep.  21, 
La  Grange. 


CH.  IV.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  20^ 

strength  and  loyalty  remain  unchanged  ;  so  also  our  defini- 
tion of  the  highest  good  may  in  some  cases  be  expressed 
diffusely  and  at  great  length,  while  in  others  it  is  put  into 
a  short  and  concise  form.  Thus,  it  will  come  to  the  same 
thing,  if  I  say  "  The  highest  good  is  a  mind  which  despises 
the  accidents  of  fortune,  and  takes  pleasure  in  virtue  "  :  or, 
"  It  is  an  unconquerable  strength  of  mind,  knowing  the 
world  well,  gentle  in  its  dealings,  showing  great  courtesy 
and  consideration  for  those  with  whom  it  is  brought  into 
contact."  Or  we  may  choose  to  define  it  by  calling  that 
man  happy  who  knows  good  and  bad  only  in  the  form  of 
good  or  bad  minds :  who  worships  honour,  and  is  satisfied 
with  his  own  virtue,  who  is  neither  puffed  up  by  good 
fortune  nor  cast  down  by  evil  fortune,  who  knows  no  other 
good  than  that  which  he  is  able  to  bestow  upon  himself,  whose 
real  pleasure  lies  in  despising  pleasures.  If  you  choose  to 
pursue  this  digression  further,  you  can  put  this  same  idea 
into  many  other  forms,  without  impairing  or  weakening 
its  meaning:  for  what  prevents  our  saying  that  a  happy 
life  consists  in  a  mind  which  is  free,  upright,  undaunted, 
and  steadfast,  beyond  the  influence  of  fear  or  desire,  which 
thinks  nothing  good  except  honour,  and  nothing  bad  except 
shame,  and  regards  everything  else  as  a  mass  of  mean 
details  which  can  neither  add  anything  to  nor  take  any- 
thing away  from  the  happiness  of  life,  but  which  come  and 
go  without  either  increasing  or  diminishing  the  highest 
good  ?  A  man  of  these  principles,  whether  he  will  or  no, 
must  be  accompanied  by  a  continual  cheerfulness,  a  high 
happiness,  which  comes  indeed  from  on  high  because  he 
delights  in  what  he  has,  and  desires  no  greater  pleasures 
than  those  which  his  home  affords.  Is  he  not  right  in 
allowing  these  to  turn  the  scale  against  petty,  ridiculous, 
and  shortlived  movements  of  his  wretched  body  ?  on  the 
day  on  which  he  becomes  proof  against  pleasure  he  also 
becomes  proof  against  pain.     See,  on  the  other  hand,  how 

p 


210  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

evil  and  guilty  a  slavery  the  man  is  forced  to  serve  who  is 
dominated  in  turn  by  pleasures  and  pains,  those  most  un- 
trustworthy and  passionate  of  masters.  We  must,  there- 
fore, escape  from  them  into  freedom.  This  nothing  will 
bestow  upon  us  save  contempt  of  Fortune  :  but  if  we  attain 
to  this,  then  there  will  dawn  upon  us  those  invaluable 
blessings,  the  repose  of  a  mind  that  is  at  rest  in  a  safe  haven, 
its  lofty  imaginings,  its  great  and  steady  delight  at  casting 
out  errors  and  learning  to  know  the  truth,  its  courtesy,  and 
its  cheerfulness,  in  all  of  which  we  shall  take  delight,  not 
regarding  them  as  good  things,  but  as  proceeding  from  the 
proper  good  of  man. 

V.  Since  I  have  begun  to  make  my  definitions  without 
a  too  strict  adherence  to  the  letter,  a  man  may  be  called 
*' happy  "  who,  thanks  to  reason,  has  ceased  either  to  hope 
or  to  fear :  but  rocks  also  feel  neither  fear  nor  sadness,  nor 
do  cattle,  yet  no  one  would  call  those  things  happy  which 
cannot  comprehend  what  happiness  is.  With  them  you 
may  class  men  whose  dull  nature  and  want  of  self-know- 
ledge reduces  them  to  the  level  of  cattle,  mere  animals : 
there  is  no  difference  between  the  one  and  the  other,  be- 
cause the  latter  have  no  reason,  while  the  former  have  only 
a  corrupted  form  of  it,  crooked  and  cunning  to  their  own 
hurt.  For  no  one  can  be  styled  happy  who  is  beyond  the 
influence  of  truth :  and  consequently  a  happy  life  is  un- 
changeable, and  is  founded  upon  a  true  and  trustworthy  dis- 
cernment ;  for  the  mind  is  uncontaminated  and  freed  from 
all  evils  only  when  it  is  able  to  escape  not  merely  from 
wounds  but  also  from  scratches,  when  it  will  always  be  able 
to  maintain  the  position  which  it  has  taken  up,  and  defend 
it  even  against  the  angry  assaults  of  Fortune :  for  with 
regard  to  sensual  pleasures,  though  they  were  to  surround 
one  on  every  side,  and  use  every  means  of  assault,  trying 
to  win  over  the  mind  by  caresses  and  making  trial  of  every 
conceivable  stratagem  to  attract  either  our  entire  selves  or 


CH.  YII.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  211 

our  separate  parts,  yet  what  mortal  that  retains  any  traces 
of  human  origin  would  wish  to  be  tickled  day  and  night,  and, 
neglecting  his  mind,  to  devote  himself  to  bodily  enjoyments? 

YI.  "  But,"  says  our  adversary,  "  the  mind  also  will 
have  pleasures  of  its  own."  Let  it  have  them,  then,  and 
let  it  sit  in  judgment  over  luxury  and  pleasures  ;  let  it  in- 
dulge itself  to  the  full  in  all  those  matters  which  give 
sensual  delights  :  then  let  it  look  back  upon  what  it  enjoyed 
before,  and  with  all  those  faded  sensualities  fresh  in  its 
memory  let  it  rejoice  and  look  eagerly  forward  to  those 
other  pleasures  which  it  experienced  long  ago,  and  intends 
to  experience  again,  and  while  the  body  lies  in  helpless  re- 
pletion in  the  present,  let  it  send  its  thoughts  onward 
towards  the  future,  and  take  stock  of  its  hopes  :  all  this  will 
make  it  appear,  in  my  opinion,  yet  more  wretched,  because 
it  is  insanity  to  choose  evil  instead  of  good  :  now  no  insane 
person  can  be  happy,  and  no  one  can  be  sane  if  he  regards 
what  is  injurious  as  the  highest  good  and  strives  to  obtain 
it.  The  happy  man,  therefore,  is  he  who  can  make  a  right 
judgment  in  all  things  :  he  is  happy  who  in  his  present 
circumstances,  whatever  they  may  be,  is  satisfied  and  on 
friendly  terms  with  the  conditions  of  his  life.  That  man  is 
happy,  whose  reason  recommends  to  him  the  whole  posture 
of  his  affairs. 

YII.  Even  those  very  people  who  declare  the  highest 
good  to  be  in  the  belly,  see  what  a  dishonourable  position 
they  have  assigned  to  it :  and  therefore  they  say  that  plea- 
sure cannot  be  parted  from  virtue,  and  that  no  one  can 
either  live  honourably  without  living  cheerfully,  nor  yet  live 
cheerfully  without  living  honourably.  I  do  not  see  how 
these  very  different  matters  can  have  any  connexion  with 
one  another.  What  is  there,  I  pray  you,  to  prevent  virtue 
existing  apart  from  pleasure  ?  of  course  the  reason  is  that 
all  good  things  derive  their  origin  from  virtue,  and  there- 
fore  even  those   things  which  you  cherish  and  seek  for 


212         .  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

come  originally  from  its  roots.  Yet,  if  they  were  entirely 
inseparable,  we  should  not  see  some  things  to  be  pleasant, 
but  not  honourable,  and  others  most  honourable  indeed, 
but  hard  and  only  to  be  attained  by  suffering.  Add 
to  this,  that  pleasure  visits  the  basest  lives,  but  virtue 
cannot  co-exist  with  an  evil  life  ;  yet  some  unhappy  people 
are  not  without  pleasure,  nay,  it  is  owing  to  pleasure  itself 
that  they  are  unhappy ;  and  this  could  not  take  place 
if  pleasure  had  any  connexion  with  virtue,  whereas  virtue  is 
often  without  pleasure,  and  never  stands  in  need  of  it. 
Why  do  you  put  together  two  things  which  are  unlike  and 
even  incompatible  one  with  another?  virtue  is  a  lofty 
quality,  sublime,  royal,  unconquerable,  untiring :  pleasure 
is  low,  slavish,  weakly,  perishable;  its  haunts  and  homes 
are  the  brothel  and  the  tavern.  You  will  meet  virtue  in 
the  temple,  the  market-place,  the  senate  house,  manning 
the  walls,  covered  with  dust,  sunburnt,  horny-handed  :  you 
will  find  pleasure  skulking  out  of  sight,  seeking  for  shady 
nooks  at  the  public  baths,  hot  chambers,  and  places  which 
dread  the  visits  of  the  aedile,  soft,  effeminate,  reeking  of 
wine  and  perfumes,  pale  or  perhaps  painted  and  made  up 
with  cosmetics.  The  highest  good  is  immortal :  it  knows 
no  ending,  and  does  not  admit  of  either  satiety  or  regret : 
for  a  right-thinking  mind  never  alters  or  becomes  hateful 
to  itself,  nor  do  the  best  things  ever  undergo  any  change  : 
but  pleasure  dies  at  the  very  moment  when  it  charms  us 
most :  it  has  no  great  scope,  and  therefore  it  soon  cloys  and 
wearies  us,  and  fades  away  as  soon  as  its  first  impulse  is 
over:  indeed,  we  cannot  depend  upon  anything  whose 
nature  is  to  change.  Consequently  it  is  not  even  possible 
that  there  should  be  any  solid  substance  in  that  which 
comes  and  goes  so  swiftly,  and  which  perishes  by  the  very 
exercise  of  its  own  functions,  for  it  arrives  at  a  point  at 
which  it  ceases  to  be,  and  even  while  it  is  beginning  always 
keeps  its  end  in  view. 


CH.  VIII.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  213 

VIII.  What  answer  are  we  to  make  to  the  reflexion  that 
pleasure  belongs  to  good  and  bad  men  alike,  and  that  bad 
men  take  as  much  delight  in  their  shame  as  good  men  in 
noble  things  ?  This  was  why  the  ancients  bade  us  lead  the 
highest,  not  the  most  pleasant  life,  in  order  that  pleasure 
might  not  be  the  guide  but  the  companion  of  a  right-think- 
ing and  honourable  mind ;  for  it  is  Nature  whom  we  ought 
to  make  our  guide :  let  our  reason  watch  her,  and  be 
advised  by  her.  To  live  happily,  then,  is  the  same  thing  as 
to  live  according  to  Nature  :  what  this  may  be,  I  will  ex- 
plain. If  we  guard  the  endowments  of  the  body  and  the  ad- 
vantages of  nature  with  care  and  fearlessness,  as  things  soon 
to  depart  and  given  to  us  only  for  a  day  ;  if  we  do  not  fall 
under  their  dominion,  nor  allow  ourselves  to  become  the 
slaves  of  what  is  no  part  of  our  own  being ;  if  we  assign  to 
all  bodily  pleasures  and  external  delights  the  same  position 
which  is  held  by  auxiliaries  and  light-armed  troops  in  a 
camp ;  if  we  make  them  our  servants,  not  our  masters — then 
and  then  only  are  they  of  value  to  our  minds.  A  man 
should  be  unbiassed  and  not  to  be  conquered  by  external 
things  :  he  ought  to  admire  himself  alone,  to  feel  confidence 
in  his  own  spirit,  and  so  to  order  his  life  as  to  be  ready  alike 
for  good  or  for  bad  fortune.  Let  not  his  confidence  be  without 
knowledge,  nor  his  knowledge  without  steadfastness  :  let 
him  always  abide  by  what  he  has  once  determined,  and  let 
there  be  no  erasure  in  his  doctrines.  It  will  be  under- 
stood, even  though  I  append  it  not,  that  such  a  man  will  be 
tranquil  and  composed  in  his  demeanour,  high-minded  and 
courteous  in  his  actions.  Let  reason  be  encouraged  by  the 
senses  to  seek  for  the  truth,  and  draw  its  first  princi- 
ples from  thence  :  indeed  it  has  no  other  base  of  operations 
or  place  from  which  to  start  in  pursuit  of  truth  :  it  must  fall 
back  upon  itself.  Even  the  all-embracing  universe  and 
God  who  is  its  guide  extends  himself  forth  into  outward 
things,  and  yet  altogether  returns  from  all  sides  back  to 


214  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

himself.  Let  our  mind  do  the  same  thing  :  when,  follow- 
ing its  bodily  senses  it  has  by  means  of  them  sent  itself 
forth  into  the  things  of  the  outward  world,  let  it  remain 
still  their  master  and  its  own.  By  this  means  we  shall  ob- 
tain a  strength  and  an  ability  which  are  united  and  allied 
together,  and  shall  derive  from  it  that  reason  which  never 
halts  between  two  opinions,  nor  is  dull  in  forming  its  percep- 
tions, beliefs,  or  convictions.  Such  a  mind,  when  it  has 
ranged  itself  in  order,  made  its  various  parts  agree  together, 
and,  if  I  may  so  express  myself,  harmonized  them,  has 
attained  to  the  highest  good:  for  it  has  nothing  evil  or 
hazardous  remaining,  nothing  to  shake  it  or  make  it 
stumble :  it  will  do  everything  under  the  guidance  of  its 
own  will,  and  nothing  unexpected  will  befal  it,  but  what- 
ever may  be  done  by  it  will  turn  out  well,  and  that,  too, 
readily  and  easily,  without  the  doer  having  recourse  to  any 
underhand  devices :  for  slow  and  hesitating  action  are  the 
signs  of  discord  and  want  of  settled  purpose.  You  may, 
then,  boldly  declare  that  the  highest  good  is  singleness  of 
mind :  for  where  agreement  and  unity  are,  there  must  the 
virtues  be  :  it  is  the  vices  that  are  at  war  one  with  another. 
IX.  "But,"  says  our  adversary,  "you  yourself  only 
practise  virtue  because  you  hope  to  obtain  some  pleasure 
from  it."  In  the  first  place,  even  though  virtue  may  afford 
us  pleasure,  still  we  do  not  seek  after  her  on  that  account : 
for  she  does  not  bestow  this,  but  bestows  this  to  boot,  nor 
is  this  the  end  for  which  she  labours,  but  her  labour  wins 
this  also,  although  it  be  directed  to  another  end.  As  in  a 
tilled-field,  when  ploughed  for  corn,  some  flowers  are  found 
amongst  it,  and  yet,  though  these  posies  may  charm  the 
eye,  all  this  labour  was  not  spent  in  order  to  produce  them 
— the  man  who  sowed  the  field  had  another  object  in  view, 
he  gained  this  over  and  above  it — so  pleasure  is  not  the 
reward  or  the  cause  of  virtue,  but  comes  in  addition  to  it ; 
nor  do  we  choose  virtue  because  she  gives  us  pleasure,  but 


CH.  X.]  OF   A    HAPPY    LIFE.  215 

she  gives  us  pleasure  also  if  we  choose  her.  The  highest  good 
lies  in  the  act  of  choosing  her,  and  in  the  attitude  of  the 
noblest  minds,  which  when  once  it  has  fulfilled  its  function 
and  established  itself  within  its  own  limits  has  attained  to 
the  highest  good,  and  needs  nothing  more:  for  there  is 
nothing  outside  of  the  whole,  any  more  than  there  is  anything 
beyond  the  end.  You  are  mistaken,  therefore,  when  you 
ask  me  what  it  is  on  account  of  which  I  seek  after  virtue  : 
for  you  are  seeking  for  something  above  the  highest.  Do 
you  ask  what  I  seek  from  virtue  ?  I  answer.  Herself :  for 
she  has  nothing  better ;  she  is  her  own  reward.  Does  this 
not  appear  great  enough,  when  I  tell  you  that  the  highest 
good  is  an  unyielding  strength  of  mind,  wisdom,  magna- 
nimity, sound  judgment,  freedom,  harmony,  beauty  ?  Do 
you  still  ask  me  for  something  greater,  of  which  these  may 
be  regarded  as  the  attributes  ?  Why  do  you  talk  of  pleasures 
to  me  ?  I  am  seeking  to  find  what  is  good  for  man,  not  for 
his  belly  ;  why,  cattle  and  whales  have  larger  ones  than  he. 
X.  "  You  purposely  misunderstand  what  I  say,"  says  he, 
"  for  I  too  say  that  no  one  can  live  pleasantly  unless  he 
lives  honorably  also,  and  this  cannot  be  the  case  with 
dumb  animals  who  measure  the  extent  of  their  happiness 
by  that  of  their  food.  I  loudly  and  publicly  proclaim  that 
what  I  call  a  pleasant  life  cannot  exist  without  the  addition 
of  virtue."  Yet  who  does  not  know  that  the  greatest 
fools  drink  the  deepest  of  those  pleasures  of  yours  ?  or  that 
vice  is  full  of  enjoyments,  and  that  the  mind  itself  suggests 
to  itself  many  perverted,  vicious  forms  of  pleasure  ? — in  the 
first  place  arrogance,  excessive  self-esteem,  swaggering  pre- 
cedence over  other  men,  a  shortsighted,  nay,  a  blind  devotion 
to  his  own  interests,  dissolute  luxury,  excessive  delight 
springing  from  the  most  trifling  and  childish  causes,  and  also 
talkativeness,  pride  that  takes  a  pleasure  in  insulting  others, 
sloth,  and  the  decay  of  a  dull  mind  which  goes  to  sleep  over 
itself.     All  these  are  dissipated  by  virtue,  which  plucks  a 


216  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

man  by  the  ear,  and  measures  the  value  of  pleasures  before 
she  permits  them  to  be  used ;  nor  does  she  set  much  store 
by  those  which  she  allows  to  pass  current,  for  she  merely 
allows  their  use,  and  her  cheerfulness  is  not  due  to  her  use 
of  them,  but  to  her  moderation  in  using  them.  "Yet 
when  moderation  lessens  pleasure,  it  impairs  the  highest 
good."  You  devote  yourself  to  pleasures,  I  check  them ; 
you  indulge  in  pleasure,  I  use  it ;  you  think  that  it  is  the 
highest  good,  I  do  not  even  think  it  to  be  good :  for  the 
sake  of  pleasure  I  do  nothing,  you  do  everything. 

XI.  When  I  say  that  I  do  nothing  for  the  sake  of  pleasure, 
I  allude  to  that  wise  man,  whom  alone  you  admit  to  be 
capable  of  pleasure  :  now  I  do  not  call  a  man  wise  who  is 
overcome  by  anything,  let  alone  by  pleasure :  yet,  if  engrossed 
by  pleasure,  how  will  he  resist  toil,  danger,  want,  and  all  the 
ills  which  surround  and  threaten  the  life  of  man  ?  How 
will  he  bear  the  sight  of  death  or  of  pain  ?  How  will  he 
endure  the  tumult  of  the  world,  and  make  head  against  so 
many  most  active  foes,  if  he  be  conquered  by  so  effeminate 
an  antagonist  ?  He  will  do  whatever  pleasure  advises 
him  :  well,  do  you  not  see  how  many  things  it  will  advise 
him  to  do  ?  '•  It  will  not,"  says  our  adversary,  "  be  able  to 
give  him  any  bad  advice,  because  it  is  combined  with 
virtue?"  Again,  do  you  not  see  what  a  poor  kind  of 
highest  good  that  must  be  which  requires  a  guardian  to 
ensure  its  being  good  at  all  ?  and  how  is  virtue  to  rule 
pleasure  if  she  follows  it,  seeing  that  to  follow  is  the  duty 
of  a  subordinate,  to  rule  that  of  a  commander?  do  you  put 
that  which  commands  in  the  background  ?  According  to 
your  school,  virtue  has  the  dignified  office  of  preliminary 
taster  of  pleasures.  We  shall,  however,  see  whether  virtue 
still  remains  virtue  among  those  who  treat  her  with  such 
contempt,  for  if  she  leaves  her  proper  station  she  can  no 
longer  keep  her  proper  name :  in  the  meanwhile,  to  keep 
to  the  point,  I  will  show  you  many  men  beset  by  pleasures, 


CS.  XII.]  OF   A   HAPPY    LIFE.  217 

men  upon  whom  Fortune  has  showered  all  her  gifts,  whom 
you  must  needs  admit  to  be  bad  men.  Look  at  Nomen- 
tanus  and  Apicius,  who  dipjest  all  the  good  things,  as  they 
call  them,  of  the  sea  and  land,  and  review  upon  their  tables 
the  whole  animal  kingdom.  Look  at  them  as  they  lie  on 
beds  of  roses  gloating  over  their  banquet,  delighting  their 
ears  with  music,  their  eyes  with  exhibitions,  their  palates 
with  flavours :  their  whole  bodies  are  titillated  with  soft 
and  soothing  applications,  and  lest  even  their  nostrils  should 
be  idle,  the  very  place  in  which  they  solemnize  ^  the  rites  of 
luxury  is  scented  with  various  perfumes.  You  will  say 
that  these  men  live  in  the  midst  of  pleasures.  Yet  they  are 
ill  at  ease,  because  they  take  pleasure  in  what  is  not  good. 
XII.  "They  are  ill  at  ease,"  replies  he,  "because  many 
things  arise  which  distract  their  thoughts,  and  their 
minds  are  disquieted  by  conflicting  opinions."  I  admit 
that  this  is  true :  still  these  very  men,  foolish,  inconsistent, 
and  certain  to  feel  remorse  as  they  are,  do  nevertheless 
receive  great  pleasure,  and  we  must  allow  that  in  so  doing 
they  are  as  far  from  feeling  any  trouble  as  they  are  from 
forming  a  right  judgment,  and  that,  as  is  the  case  with 
many  people,  they  are  possessed  by  a  merry  madness,  and 
laugh  while  they  rave.  The  pleasures  of  wise  men,  on  the 
other  hand,  are  mild,  decorous,  verging  on  dulness,  kept 
under  restraint  and  scarcely  noticeable,  and  are  neither 
invited  to  come  nor  received  with  honour  when  they  come  of 
their  own  accord,  nor  are  they  welcomed  with  any  delight  by 
those  whom  they  visit,  who  mix  them  up  with  their  lives  and 
fill  up  empty  spaces  with  them,  like  an  amusing  farce  in 
the  intervals  of  serious  business.  Let  them  no  longer,  then, 
join  incongruous  matters  together,  or  connect  pleasure  with 

^  Parentatur  seems  to  mean  where  an  offering  is  made  to  luxury — 
where  they  sacrifice  to  luxury.  Perfumes  were  used  at  funerals.  Lipsius 
suggests  that  these  feasts  were  like  funerals  because  the  guests  were 
carried  away  from  them  dead  drunk. 


218  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

virtue,  a  mistake  whereby  they  court  the  worst  of  men. 
The  reckless  profligate,  always  in  liquor  and  belching  out  the 
fumes  of  wine,  believes  that  he  lives  with  virtue,  because  he 
knows  that  he  lives  with  pleasure,  for  he  hears  it  said  that 
pleasure  cannot  exist  apart  from  virtue ;  consequently  he 
dubs  his  vices  with  the  title  of  wisdom  and  parades  all  that  he 
ought  to  conceal.  So,  men  are  not  encouraged  by  Epicurus 
to  run  riot,  but  the  vicious  hide  their  excesses  in  the  lap 
of  philosophy,  and  flock  to  the  schools  in  which  they  hear 
the  praises  of  pleasure.  They  do  not  consider  how  sober 
and  temperate — for  so,  by  Hercules,  I  believe  it  to  be — 
that  "  pleasure  "  of  Epicurus  is,  but  they  rush  at  his  mere 
name,  seeking  to  obtain  some  protection  and  cloak  for 
their  vices.  They  lose,  therefore,  the  one  virtue  which 
their  evil  life  possessed,  that  of  being  ashamed  of  doing 
wrong  :  for  they  praise  what  they  used  to  blush  at,  and 
boast  of  their  vices.  Thus  modesty  can  never  reassert  itself, 
when  shameful  idleness  is  dignified  with  an  honourable 
name.  The  reason  why  that  praise  which  your  school 
lavishes  upon  pleasure  is  so  hurtful,  is  because  the  honour- 
able part  of  its  teaching  passes  unnoticed,  but  the  degrading 
part  is  seen  by  all. 

XIII.  I  myself  believe,  though  my  Stoic  comrades  would 
be  nnwilling  to  hear  me  say  so,  that  the  teaching  of  Epi- 
curus was  upright  and  holy,  and  even,  if  you  examine  it 
narrowly,  stern  :  for  this  much  talked  of  pleasure  is  reduced 
to  a  very  narrow  compass,  and  he  bids  pleasure  submit  to 
the  same  law  which  we  bid  virtue  do — I  mean,  to  obey 
nature.  Luxury,  however,  is  not  satisfied  with  what  is 
enough  for  nature.  What  is  the  consequence  ?  Whoever 
thinks  that  happiness  consists  in  lazy  sloth,  and  alterna- 
tions of  gluttony  and  profligacy,  requires  a  good  patron 
for  a  bad  action,  and  when  he  has  become  an  Epicurean, 
having  been  led  to  do  so  by  the  attractive  name  of  that 
school,  he  follows,  not  the  pleasure  which  he  there  hears 


CH.  XIII.]  OF   A    HAPPY    LIFE.  219 

spoken  of,  but  that  which  he  brought  thither  with  him, 
and,  having  learned  to  think  that  his  vices  coincide  with 
the  maxims  of  that  philosophy,  he  indulges  in  them  no 
longer  timidly  and  in  dark  corners,  but  boldly  in  the  face 
of  day.  I  will  not,  therefore,  like  most  of  our  school,  say 
that  the  sect  of  Epicurus  is  the  teacher  of  crime,  but  what 
I  say  is  :  it  is  ill  spoken  of,  it  has  a  bad  reputation,  and 
yet  it  does  not  deserve  it.  "  Who  can  know  this  without 
having  been  admitted  to  its  inner  mysteries  ?  "  Its  very 
outside  gives  opportunity  for  scandal,  and  encourages 
men's  baser  desires :  it  is  like  a  brave  man  dressed  in 
a  woman's  gown  :  your  chastity  is  assured,  your  manhood 
is  safe,  your  body  is  submitted  to  nothing  disgraceful,  but 
your  hand  holds  a  drum  (like  a  priest  of  Cybele) .  Choose, 
then,  some  honourable  superscription  for  your  school,  some 
writing  which  shall  in  itself  arouse  the  mind  :  that  which 
at  present  stands  over  your  door  has  been  invented  by  the 
vices.  He  who  ranges  himself  on  the  side  of  virtue  gives 
thereby  a  proof  of  a  noble  disposition  :  he  who  follows  plea- 
sure appears  to  be  weakly,  worn  out,  degrading  his  man- 
hood, likely  to  fall  into  infamous  vices  unless  someone 
discriminates  his  pleasures  for  him,  so  that  he  may  know 
which  remain  within  the  bounds  of  natural  desire,  which 
are  frantic  and  boundless,  and  become  all  the  more  in- 
satiable the  more  they  are  satisfied.  But  come  !  let  virtue 
lead  the  way  :  then  every  step  will  be  safe.  Too  much 
pleasure  is  hurtful :  but  with  virtue  we  need  fear  no  excess 
of  any  kind,  because  moderation  is  contained  in  virtue  her- 
self. That  which  is  injured  by  its  own  extent  cannot  be  a 
good  thing :  besides,  what  better  guide  can  there  be  than 
reason  for  beings  endowed  with  a  reasoning  nature  ?  so  if 
this  combination  pleases  you,  if  you  are  willing  to  proceed 
to  a  happy  life  thus  accompanied,  let  virtue  lead  the  way, 
let  pleasure  follow  and  hang  about  the  body  like  a  shadow  : 
it  is  the  part  of  a  mind  incapable  of  great  things  to  hand 


^20  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

over  virtue,  the  highest  of  all  qualities,  as  a  handmaid  to 
pleasure. 

XIV.  Let  virtue  lead  the  way  and  bear  the  standard : 
we  shall  have  pleasure  for  all  that,  but  we  shall  be  her 
masters  and  controllers  ;  she  may  win  some  concessions 
from  us,  but  will  not  force  ns  to  do  anything.  On  the 
contrary,  those  who  have  permitted  pleasure  to  lead  the 
van,  have  neither  one  nor  the  other  :  for  they  lose  virtue 
altogether,  and  yet  they  do  not  possess  pleasure,  but  are 
possessed  by  it,  and  are  either  tortured  by  its  absence  or 
choked  by  its  excess,  being  wretched  if  deserted  by  it,  and 
yet  more  wretched  if  overwhelmed  by  it,  like  those  who 
are  caught  in  the  shoals  of  the  Syrtes  and  at  one  time  are 
left  on  dry  ground  and  at  another  tossed  on  the  flowing 
waves.  This  arises  from  an  exaggerated  want  of  self- 
control,  and  a  hidden  love  of  evil :  for  it  is  dangerous  for 
one  who  seeks  after  evil  instead  of  good  to  attain  his  object. 
As  we  hunt  wild  beasts  with  toil  and  peril,  and  even  when 
they  are  caught  find  them  an  anxious  possession,  for  they 
often  tear  their  keepers  to  pieces,  even  so  are  great  plea- 
sures :  they  turn  out  to  be  great  evils  and  take  their 
owners  prisoner.  The  more  numerous  and  the  greater 
they  are,  the  more  inferior  and  the  slave  of  more  masters 
does  that  man  become  whom  the  vulgar  call  a  happy  man,  I 
may  even  press  this  analogy  further  :  as  the  man  who  tracks 
wild  animals  to  their  lairs,  and  who  sets  great  store  on — 

"  Seeking  with  snares  the  wandering  brutes  to  noose," 
and 

"  Making  their  hounds  the  spacious  glade  surround," 

that  he  may  follow  their  tracks,  neglects  far  more  desirable 
things,  and  leaves  many  duties  unfulfilled,  so  he  who  pur- 
sues pleasure  postpones  everything  to  it,  disregards  that 
first  essential,  liberty,  and  sacrifices  it  to  his  belly ;  nor  does 
he  buy  pleasure  for  himself,  but  sells  himself  to  pleasure. 


CH.  XV.]  OF   A    HAPPY    LIFE.  221 

Xy.  "But  what,"  asks  our  adversary,  "is  there  to  hinder 
virtue  and  pleasure  being  combined  together,  and  a  highest 
good  being  thus  formed,  so  that  honour  and  pleasure  may- 
be the  same  thing  ?  "  Because  nothing  except  what  is 
honourable  can  form  a  part  of  honour,  and  the  highest 
good  would  lose  its  purity  if  it  were  to  see  within  itself  any- 
thing unlike  its  own  better  part.  Even  the  joy  which 
arises  from  virtue,  although  it  be  a  good  thing,  yet  is  not  a 
part  of  absolute  good,  any  more  than  cheerfulness  or  peace 
of  mind,  which  are  indeed  good  things,  but  which  merely 
follow  the  highest  good,  and  do  not  contribute  to  ite 
perfection,  although  they  are  generated  by  the  noblest 
causes.  Whoever  on  the  other  hand  forms  an  alliance,  and 
that,  too,  a  one-sided  one,  between  virtue  and  pleasure, 
clogs  whatever  strength  the  one  may  possess  by  the  weak- 
ness of  the  other,  and  sends  liberty  under  the  yoke,  for 
liberty  can  only  remain  unconquered  as  long  as  she  knows 
nothing  more  valuable  than  herself :  for  he  begins  to  need 
the  help  of  Fortune,  which  is  the  most  titter  slavery  :  his  life 
becomes  anxious,  full  of  suspicion,  timorous,  fearful  of  acci- 
dents, waiting  in  agony  for  critical  moments  of  time.  You 
do  not  afford  virtue  a  solid  immoveable  base  if  you  bid  it 
stand  on  what  is  unsteady :  and  what  can  be  so  unsteady 
as  dependence  on  mere  chance,  and  the  vicissitudes  of 
the  body  and  of  those  things  which  act  on  the  body? 
How  can  such  a  man  obey  God  and  receive  everything 
which  comes  to  pass  in  a  cheerful  spirit,  never  com- 
plaining of  fate,  and  putting  a  good  construction  upon 
everything  that  befalls  him,  if  he  be  agitated  by  the  petty 
pin-pricks  of  pleasures  and  pains  ?  A  man  cannot  be  a 
good  protector  of  his  country,  a  good  avenger  of  her  wrongs, 
or  a  good  defender  of  his  friends,  if  he  be  inclined  to  plea- 
sures. Let  the  highest  good,  then,  rise  to  that  height  from 
whence  no  force  can  dislodge  it,  whither  neither  pain  can 
ascend,  nor  hope,  nor  fear,  nor  anything   else   that   can 


222  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  Vlf. 

impair  the  anthority  of  the  "  highest  good."  Thither  virtue 
alone  can  make  her  waj :  by  her  aid  that  hill  must  be 
climbed :  she  will  bravely  stand  her  ground  and  endure 
whatever  may  befal  her  not  only  resignedly,  but  even 
willingly :  she  will  know  that  all  hard  times  come  in 
obedience  to  natural  laws,  and  like  a  good  soldier  she  will 
bear  wounds,  count  scars,  and  when  transfixed  and  dying 
will  yet  adore  the  general  for  whom  she  falls  :  she  will 
bear  in  mind  the  old  maxim  "  Follow  God."  On  the  other 
hand,  he  who  grumbles  and  complains  and  bemoans  himself 
is  nevertheless  forcibly  obliged  to  obey  orders,  and  is 
dragged  away,  however  much  against  his  will,  to  carry 
them  out:  yet  what  madness  is  it  to  be  dragged  rather 
than  to  follow?  as  great,  by  Hercules,  as  it  is  folly  and 
ignorance  of  one's  true  position  to  grieve  because  one  has  not 
got  something  or  because  something  has  caused  us  rough 
treatment,  or  to  be  surprised  or  indignant  at  those  ills 
which  befal  good  men  as  well  as  bad  ones,  I  mean  diseases, 
deaths,  illnesses,  and  the  other  cross  accidents  of  human 
life.  Let  us  bear  with  magnanimity  whatever  the  system 
of  the  universe  makes  it  needful  for  us  to  bear :  we  are  all 
bound  by  this  oath  :  "To  bear  the  ills  of  mortal  life,  and  to 
submit  with  a  good  grace  to  what  we  cannot  avoid."  We 
have  been  born  into  a  monarchy  :  our  liberty  is  to  obey  God. 
XYI.  True  happiness,  therefore,  consists  in  virtue:  and 
what  will  this  virtue  bid  you  do  ?  Not  to  think  anything 
bad  or  good  which  is  connected  neither  with  virtue  nor  with 
wickedness:  and  in  the  next  place,  both  to  endure  un- 
moved the  assaults  of  evil,  and,  as  far  as  is  right,  to  form 
a  god  out  of  what  is  good.  What  reward  does  she  promise 
you  for  this  campaign  ?  an  enormous  one,  and  one  that 
raises  you  to  the  level  of  the  gods  :  you  shall  be  subject  to 
no  restraint  and  to  no  want ;  you  shall  be  free,  safe,  unhurt ; 
you  shall  fail  in  nothing  that  you  attempt ;  you  shall  be  de- 
barred from  nothing ;  everything  shall  turn  out  according 


CH.  XVII.]  OF   A  HAPPY   LIFE.  223 

to  your  wish  ;  no  misfortune  shall  befal  you  ;  nothing  shall 
happen  to  you  except  what  you  expect  and  hope  for. 
"What !  does  virtue  alone  suffice  to  make  you  happy  ?  " 
why,  of  course,  consummate  and  god-like  virtue  such  as 
this  not  only  suffices,  but  more  than  suffices  :  for  when 
a  man  is  placed  beyond  the  reach  of  any  desire,  what  can 
he  possibly  lack  ?  if  all  that  he  needs  is  concentred  in  him- 
self, how  can  he  require  anything  from  without  ?  He, 
however,  who  is  only  on  the  road  to  virtue,  although 
he  may  have  made  great  progress  along  it,  nevertheless 
needs  some  favour  from  fortune  while  he  is  still  struggling 
among  mere  human  interests,  while  he  is  untying  that  knot, 
and  all  the  bonds  which  bind  him  to  mortality.  What, 
then,  is  the  difference  between  them?  it  is  that  some  are 
tied  more  or  less  tightly  by  these  bonds,  and  some  have  even 
tied  themselves  with  them  as  well ;  whereas  he  who  has 
made  progress  towards  the  upper  regions  and  raised  him- 
self upwards  drags  a  looser  chain,  and  though  not  yet  free, 
is  yet  as  good  as  free. 

XYII.  If,  therefore,  any  one  of  those  dogs  who  yelp  at 
philosophy  were  to  say,  as  they  are  wont  to  do,  "  Why, 
then,  do  you  talk  so  much  more  bravely  than  you  live  ? 
why  do  you  check  your  words  in  the  presence  of  your 
superiors,  and  consider  money  to  be  a  necessary  implement  ? 
why  are  you  disturbed  when  you  sustain  losses,  and  weep 
on  hearing  of  the  death  of  your  wife  or  your  friend  ?  why 
do  you  pay  regard  to  common  rumour,  and  feel  annoyed  by 
calumnious  gossip  ?  why  is  your  estate  more  elaborately 
kept  than  its  natural  use  requires  ?  why  do  you  not  dine 
according  to  your  own  maxims  ?  why  is  your  furniture 
smarter  than  it  need  be  ?  why  do  you  drink  wine  that  is 
older  than  yourself  ?  why  are  your  grounds  laid  out  ?  why 
do  you  plant  trees  which  afford  nothing  except  shade  ?  why 
does  your  wife  wear  in  her  ears  the  price  of  a  rich  man's 
house  ?  why  are  your  children  at  school  dressed  in  costly 


224  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

clothes  ?  why  is  it  a  science  to  wait  upon  you  at  table  ? 
why  is  your  silver  plate  not  set  down  anyhow  or  at  ran- 
dom, but  skilfully  disposed  in  regular  order,  with  a  super- 
intendent to  preside  over  the  carving  of  the  viands  ?  " 
Add  to  this,  if  you  like,  the  questions  "  Why  do  you  own 
property  beyond  the  seas  ?  why  do  you  own  more  than  you 
know  of  ?  it  is  a  shame  to  you  not  to  know  your  slaves  by 
sight :  for  you  must  be  very  neglectful  of  them  if  you  only 
own  a  few,  or  very  extravagant  if  you  have  too  many  for 
your  memory  to  retain."  I  will  add  some  reproaches  after- 
wards, and  will  bring  more  accusations  against  myself  than 
you  think  of :  for  the  present  I  will  make  you  the  follow- 
ing answer.  "  I  am  not  a  wise  man,  and  I  will  not  be  one 
in  order  to  feed  your  spite :  so  do  not  require  me  to  be  on 
a  level  with  the  best  of  men,  but  merely  to  be  better  than 
the  worst :  I  am  satisfied,  if  every  day  I  take  away  some- 
thing from  my  vices  and  correct  my  faults.  I  have  not 
arrived  at  perfect  soundness  of  mind,  indeed,  I  never  shall 
arrive  at  it :  I  compound  palliatives  rather  than  remedies 
for  my  gout,  and  am  satisfied  if  it  comes  at  rarer  intervals 
and  does  not  shoot  so  painfully.  Compared  with  your  feet, 
which  are  lame,  I  am  a  racer."  I  make  this  speech,  not  on 
my  own  behalf,  for  I  am  steeped  in  vices  of  every  kind, 
but  on  behalf  of  one  who  has  made  some  progress  in  virtue. 
XVIII.  "You  talk  one  way,"  objects  our  adversary, 
"  and  live  another."  You  most  spiteful  of  creatures,  you 
who  always  show  the  bitterest  hatred  to  the  best  of  men, 
this  reproach  was  flung  at  Plato,  at  Epicurus,  at  Zeno  :  for 
all  these  declared  how  they  ought  to  live,  not  how  they  did 
live.  I  speak  of  virtue,  not  of  myself,  and  when  I  blame 
vices,  I  blame  my  own  first  of  all :  when  I  have  the  power, 
I  shall  live  as  I  ought  to  do :  spite,  however  deeply  steeped 
in  venom,  shall  not  keep  me  back  from  what  is  best :  that 
poison  itself  with  which  you  bespatter  others,  with  which 
you  choke  yourselves,  shall  not  hinder  me  from  continuing 


CH.  XIX.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  225 

to  praise  that  life  which  I  do  not,  indeed,  lead,  but  which  I 
know  I  ought  to  lead,  from  loving  virtue  and  from  following 
after  her,  albeit  a  long  way  behind  her  and  with  halting 
gait.  Am  I  to  expect  that  evil  speaking  will  respect  any- 
thing, seeing  that  it  respected  neither  Rutilius  nor  Cato  ? 
Will  any  one  care  about  being  thought  too  rich  by  men  for 
whom  Diogenes  the  Cynic  was  not  poor  enough  ?  That  most 
energetic  philosopher  fought  against  all  the  desires  of  the 
body,  and  was  poorer  even  than  the  other  Cynics,  in  that 
besides  having  given  up  possessing  anything  he  had  also 
given  up  asking  for  anything  :  yet  they  reproached  him  for 
not  being  sufficiently  in  want :  as  though  forsooth  it  were 
poverty,  not  virtue,  of  which  he  professed  knowledge. 

XIX.  They  say  that  Diodorus,  the  Epicurean  philo- 
sopher, who  within  these  last  few  days  put  an  end  to  his 
life  with  his  own  hand,  did  not  act  according  to  the 
precepts  of  Epicurus,  in  cutting  his  throat :  some  choose 
to  regard  this  act  as  the  result  of  madness,  others  of 
recklessness ;  he,  meanwhile,  happy  and  filled  with  the 
consciousness  of  his  own  goodness,  has  borne  testimony  to 
himself  by  his  manner  of  departing  from  life,  has  com- 
mended the  repose  of  a  life  spent  at  anchor  in  a  safe 
harbour,  and  has  said  what  you  do  not  like  to  hear,  because 
you  too  ought  to  do  it  : 

"I've  lived,  I've  run  the  race  which  Fortune  set  me." 

You  argue  about  the  life  and  death  of  another,  and  yelp  at 
the  name  of  men  whom  some  peculiarly  noble  quality  has 
rendered  great,  just  as  tiny  curs  do  at  the  approach  of 
strangers  :  for  it  is  to  your  interest  that  no  one  should 
appear  to  be  good,  as  if  virtue  in  another  were  a  reproach 
to  all  your  crimes.  You  enviously  compare  the  glories  of 
others  with  your  own  dirty  actions,  and  do  not  understand 
how  greatly  to  your  disadvantage  it  is  to  venture  to  do 
so :  for  if  they  who  follow  after  virtue  be  greedy,  lustful, 

Q 


226  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

and  fond  of  power,  what  must  you  be,  who  hate  the  very 
name  of  virtue  ?  You  say  that  no  one  acts  up  to  his  pro- 
fessions, or  lives  according  to  the  standard  which  he  sets 
up  in  his  discourses :  what  wonder,  seeing  that  the  words 
which  they  speak  are  brave,  gigantic,  and  able  to  weather 
all  the  storms  which  wreck  mankind,  whereas  they  them- 
selves are  struggling  to  tear  themselves  away  from  crosses 
into  which  each  one  of  you  is  driving  his  own  nail.  Yet 
men  who  are  crucified  hang  from  one  single  pole,  but  these 
who  punish  themselves  are  divided  between  as  many 
crosses  as  they  have  lusts,  but  yet  are  given  to  evil  speak- 
ing, and  are  so  magnificent  in  their  contempt  of  the  vices  of 
others  that  I  should  suppose  that  they  had  none  of  their 
own,  were  it  not  that  some  criminals  when  on  the  gibbet 
spit  upon  the  spectators. 

XX.  "  Philosophers  do  not  carry  into  effect  all  that  they 
teach."  No  ;  but  they  effect  much  good  by  their  teaching, 
by  the  noble  thoughts  which  they  conceive  in  their  minds  : 
would,  indeed,  that  they  could  act  up  to  their  talk :  what 
could  be  happier  than  they  would  be  ?  but  in  the  mean- 
while'you  have  no  right  to  despise  good  sayings  and  hearts 
full  of  good  thoughts.  Men  deserve  praise  for  engaging 
in  profitable  studies,  even  though  they  stop  short  of  pro- 
ducing any  results.  Why  need  we  wonder  if  those  who 
begin  to  climb  a  steep  path  do  not  succeed  in  ascending 
it  very  high  ?  yet,  if  you  be  a  man,  look  with  respect  on 
those  who  attempt  great  things,  even  though  they  fall. 
It  is  the  act  of  a  generous  spirit  to  proportion  its  efforts 
not  to  its  own  strength  but  to  that  of  human  nature,  to 
entertain  lofty  aims,  and  to  conceive  plans  which  are  too 
vast  to  be  carried  into  execution  even  by  those  who  are 
endowed  with  gigantic  intellects,  who  appoint  for  them- 
selves the  following  rules  :  "  I  will  look  upon  death  or  upon 
a  comedy  with  the  same  expression  of  countenance  :  I  will 
submit  to  labours,  however  great  they  may  be,  supporting 


CH.  XX.]  '  OF  A  HAPPY   LIFE.  227 

the  strength  of  my  body  by  that  of  my  mind  :  I  will  despise 
riches  when  I  have  them  as  mnch  as  when  I  have  them 
not ;  if  they  be  elsewhere  I  will  not  be  more  gloomy,  if  they 
sparkle  around  me  I  will  not  be  more  lively  than  I  should 
otherwise  be :  whether  Fortune  comes  or  goes  I  will  take 
no  notice  of  her :  I  will  view  all  lands  as  though  they  belong 
to  me,  and  my  own  as  though  they  belonged  to  all  man- 
kind :  I  will  so  live  as  to  remember  that  I  was  born  for 
others,  and  will  thank  Nature  on  this  account :  for  in  what 
fashion  could  she  have  done  better  for  me  ?  she  has  given 
me  alone  to  all,  and  all  to  me  alone.  Whatever  I  may  pos- 
sess, I  will  neither  hoard  it  greedily  nor  squander  it  reck- 
lessly. I  will  think  that  I  have  no  possessions  so  real  as 
those  which  I  have  given  away  to  deserving  people  :  I  will 
not  reckon  benefits  by  their  magnitude  or  number,  or  by 
anything  except  the  value  set  upon  them  by  the  receiver  :  I 
never  will  consider  a  gift  to  be  a  large  one  if  it  be  bestowed 
upon  a  worthy  object.  I  will  do  nothing  because  of  public 
opinion,  but  everthing  because  of  conscience :  whenever  I 
do  anything  alone  by  myself  I  will  believe  that  the  eyes  of 
the  Roman  people  are  upon  me  while  I  do  it.  In  eating 
and  drinking  my  object  shall  be  to  quench  the  desires  of 
Nature,  not  to  fill  and  empty  my  belly.  I  will  be  agreeable 
with  my  friends,  gentle  and  mild  to  my  foes  :  I  will  grant 
pardon  before  I  am  asked  for  it,  and  will  meet  the  wishes 
of  honourable  men  half  way :  I  will  bear  in  mind  that  the 
world  is  my  native  city,  that  its  governors  are  the  gods,  and 
that  they  stand  above  and  around  me,  criticizing  whatever 
I  do  or  say.  Whenever  either  Nature  demands  my  breath 
again,  or  reason  bids  me  dismiss  it,  I  will  quit  this  life, 
calling  all  to  witness  that  I  have  loved  a  good  conscience, 
and  good  pursuits  ;  that  no  one's  freedom,  my  own  least  of 
all,  has  been  impaired  through  me."  He  who  sets  up  these 
as  the  rules  of  his  life  will  soar  aloft  and  strive  to  make  his 
way  to  the  gods :  of  a  truth,  even  though  he  fails,  yet  he 


228  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VIJ. 

"  Fails  in  a  high  emprise,''  ^ 

But  you,  who  hate  both  virtue  and  those  who  practise  it, 
do  nothing  at  which  we  need  be  surprised,  for  sickly  lights 
cannot  bear  the  sun,  nocturnal  creatures  avoid  the  bright- 
ness of  day,  and  at  its  first  dawning  become  bewildered  and 
all  betake  themselves  to  their  dens  together :  creatures  that 
fear  the  light  hide  themselves  in  crevices.  So  croak  away, 
and  exercise  your  miserable  tongues  in  reproaching  good 
men  :  open  wide  your  jaws,  bite  hard  :  you  will  break  many 
teeth  before  you  make  any  impression. 

XXI.  "  But  how  is  it  that  this  man  studies  philosophy 
and  nevertheless  lives  the  life  of  a  rich  man  ?  Why  does 
he  say  that  wealth  ought  to  be  despised  and  yet  possess 
it  ?  that  life  should  be  despised,  and  yet  live  ?  that  health 
should  be  despised,  and  yet  guard  it  with  the  utmost  care, 
and  wish  it  to  be  as  good  as  possible  ?  Does  he  consider 
banishment  to  be  an  empty  name,  and  say,  "  What  evil  is 
there  in  changing  one  country  for  another  ?  "  and  yet,  if  per- 
mitted, does  he  not  grow  old  in  his  native  land  ?  does  he 
declare  that  there  is  no  difference  between  a  longer  and  a 
shorter  time,  and  yet,  if  he  be  not  prevented,  lengthen  out 
his  life  and  flourish  in  a  green  old  age  ?  "  His  answer  is, 
that  these  things  ought  to  be  despised,  not  that  he  should 
not  possess  them,  but  that  he  should  not  possess  them 
with  fear  and  trembling :  he  does  not  drive  them  away  from 
him,  but  when  they  leave  him  he  follows  after  them  uncon- 
cernedly. Where,  indeed,  can  fortune  invest  riches  more 
securely  than  in  a  place  from  whence  they  can  always  be 
recovered  without  any  squabble  with  their  trustee  ?  Marcus 
Cato,  when  he  was  praising  Curius  and  Coruncanius  and 
that  century  in  which  the  possession  of  a  few  small  silver 
coins  were  an  offence  which  was  punished  by  the  Censor, 
himself  owned  four  million  sesterces;  a  less  fortune,  no 

^  The  quotation  is  from  the  epitaph  on  Phaeton. — See  Ovid,  Met.  II» 
327. 


CH.  XXII.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  229 

doubt,  than  that  of  Crassus,  but  larger  than  of  Cato  the 
Censor.  If  the  amounts  be  compared,  he  had  outstripped 
his  great-grandfather  further  than  he  himself  was  outdone 
by  Crassus,  and  if  still  greater  riches  had  fallen  to  his  lot, 
he  would  not  have  spurned  them :  for  the  wise  man  does 
not  think  himself  unworthy  of  any  chance  presents :  he 
does  not  love  riches,  but  he  prefers  to  have  them  ;  he  does 
not  receive  them  into  his  spirit,  but  only  into  his  house : 
nor  does  he  cast  away  from  him  what  he  already  possesses, 
but  keeps  them,  and  is  willing  that  his  virtue  should  receive 
a  larger  subject-matter  for  its  exercise. 

XXII.  Who  can  doubt,  however,  that  the  wise  man,  if 
he  is  rich,  has  a  wider  field  for  the  development  of  his 
powers  than  if  he  is  poor,  seeing  that  in  the  latter  case  the 
only  virtue  which  he  can  display  is  that  of  neither  being 
perverted  nor  crushed  by  his  poverty,  whereas  if  he  has 
riches,  he  will  have  a  wide  field  for  the  exhibition  of  tem- 
perance, generosity,  laboriousness,  methodical  arrange- 
ment, and  grandeur.  The  wise  man  will  not  despise  him- 
self, however  short  of  stature  he  may  be,  but  nevertheless 
he  will  wish  to  be  tall :  even  though  he  be  feeble  and  one- 
eyed  he  may  be  in  good  health,  yet  he  would  prefer  to 
have  bodily  strength,  and  that  too,  while  he  knows  all  the 
while  that  he  has  something  which  is  even  more  powerful : 
he  will  endure  illness,  and  will  hope  for  good  health  :  for 
some  things,  though  they  may  be  trifles  compared  with  the 
sum  total,  and  though  they  may  be  taken  away  without 
destroying  the  chief  good,  yet  add  somewhat  to  that  con- 
stant cheerfulness  which  arises  from  virtue.  Riches  encou- 
rage and  brighten  up  such  a  man  just  as  a  sailor  is  de- 
lighted at  a  favourable  wind  that  bears  him  on  his  way,  or 
as  people  feel  pleasure  at  a  fine  day  or  at  a  sunny  spot  in 
the  cold  weather.  What  wise  man,  I  mean  of  our  school, 
whose  only  good  is  virtue,  can  deny  that  even  these  matters 
which  we  call  neither  good  nor  bad  have  in  themselves  a 


230  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

certain  value,  and  that  some  of  them  are  preferable  to 
others  ?  to  some  of  them  we  show  a  certain  amount  of 
respect,  and  to  some  a  great  deal.  Do  not,  then,  make  any 
mistake :  riches  belong  to  the  class  of  desirable  things. 
"Why  then,"  say  yon,  "do  you  laugh  at  me,  since  yon 
place  them  in  the  same  position  that  I  do?"  Do  you 
wish  to  know  how  different  the  position  is  in  which  we 
place  them  ?  If  my  riches  leave  me,  they  will  carry  away 
with  them  nothing  except  themselves :  you  will  be  bewil- 
dered and  will  seem  to  be  left  without  yourself  if  they  should 
pass  away  from  you  :  with  me  riches  occupy  a  certain 
place,  but  with  you  they  occupy  the  highest  place  of  all. 
In  fine,  my  riches  belong  to  me,  you  belong  to  your  riches. 
XXIII.  Cease,  then,  forbidding  philosophers  to  possess 
money :  no  one  has  condemned  wisdom  to  poverty.  The 
philosopher  may  own  ample  wealth,  but  will  not  own 
wealth  that  which  has  been  torn  from  another,  or  which  is 
stained  with  another's  blood :  his  must  be  obtained  with- 
out wronging  any  man,  and  without  its  being  won  by  base 
means ;  it  must  be  alike  honourably  come  by  and  honour- 
ably spent,  and  must  be  such  as  spite  alone  could  shake  its 
head  at.  Raise  it  to  whatever  figure  you  please,  it  will 
still  be  an  honourable  possession,  if,  while  it  includes  much 
which  every  man  would  like  to  call  his  own,  there  be 
nothing  which  any  one  can  say  is  his  own.  Such  a  man 
will  not  forfeit  his  right  to  the  favour  of  Fortune,  and  will 
neither  boast  of  his  inheritance  nor  blush  for  it  if  it 
was  honourably  acquired :  yet  he  will  have  something  to 
boast  of,  if  he  throw  his  house  open,  let  all  his  country- 
men come  among  his  property,  and  say,  "  If  any  one  recog- 
nizes here  anything  belonging  to  him,  let  him  take  it." 
What  a  great  man,  how  excellently  rich  will  he  be,  if  after 
this  speech  he  possesses  as  much  as  he  had  before !  I  say, 
then,  that  if  he  can  safely  and  confidently  submit  his 
accounts  to  the  scrutiny  of  the  people,  and  no  one  can  find 


CH.  XXTV.]  OF   A   HAPPY   LIFE.  231 

in  them  any  item  upon  which  he  can  lay  hands,  such  a  man 
may  boldly  and  unconcealedly  enjoy  his  riches.  The  wise 
man  will  not  allow  a  single  ill- won  penny  to  cross  his 
threshold :  yet  he  will  not  refuse  or  close  his  door  against 
great  riches,  if  they  are  the  gift  of  fortune  and  the  product 
of  virtue :  what  reason  has  he  for  grudging  them  good 
quarters  :  let  them  come  and  be  his  guests  :  he  will  neither 
brag  of  them  nor  hide  them  away  :  the  one  is  the  part  of  a 
silly,  the  other  of  a  cowardly  and  paltry  spirit,  which,  as  it 
were,  muffles  up  a  good  thing  in  its  lap.  Neither  will  he, 
as  I  said  before,  turn  them  out  of  his  house :  for  what  will 
he  say  ?  will  he  say,  "  You  are  useless,"  or  "  I  do  not  know 
how  to  use  riches  ?  "  As  he  is  capable  of  performing  a 
journey  upon  his  own  feet,  but  yet  would  prefer  to  mount 
a  carriage,  just  so  he  will  be  capable  of  being  poor,  yet  will 
wish  to  be  rich ;  he  will  own  wealth,  but  will  view  it  as  an 
uncertain  possession  which  will  some  day  fly  away  from  him. 
He  will  not  allow  it  to  be  a  burden  either  to  himself  or  to 
any  one  else :  he  will  give  it — why  do  you  prick  up  your 
ears  ?  why  do  you  open  your  pockets  ? — he  will  give  it  either 
to  good  men  or  to  those  whom  it  may  make  into  good  men. 
He  will  give  it  after  having  taken  the  utmost  pains  to 
choose  those  who  are  fittest  to  receive  it,  as  becomes  one 
who  bears  in  mind  that  he  ought  to  give  an  account  of 
what  he  spends  as  well  as  of  what  he  receives.  He  will  give 
for  good  and  commendable  reasons,  for  a  gift  ill  bestowed 
counts  as  a  shameful  loss :  he  will  have  an  easily  opened 
pocket,  but  not  one  with  a  hole  in  it,  so  that  much  may  be 
taken  out  of  it,  yet  nothing  may  fall  out  of  it. 

XXiy.  He  who  believes  giving  to  be  an  easy  matter,  is 
mistaken  :  it  offers  very  great  difficulties,  if  we  bestow  our 
bounty  rationally,  and  do  not  scatter  it  impulsively  and  at 
random.  I  do  this  man  a  service,  I  requite  a  good  turn  done 
me  by  that  one  :  I  help  this  other,  because  I  pity  him : 
this  man,  again,  I  teach  to  be  no  fit  object  for  poverty  to 


232  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  YII. 

hold  down  or  degrade.  I  shall  not  give  some  men  anything, 
although  they  are  in  want,  because,  even  if  I  do  give  to 
them  they  will  still  be  in  want :  I  shall  proffer  my  bounty 
to  some,  and  shall  forcibly  thrust  it  upon  others  :  I  cannot 
be  neglecting  my  own  interests  while  I  am  doing  this  :  at 
no  time  do  I  make  more  people  in  my  debt  than  when  I 
am  giving  things  away.  "  What  ?  "  say  you,  "  do  you  give 
that  you  may  receive  again  ?  "  At  any  rate  I  do  not  give 
that  I  may  throw  my  bounty  away  :  what  I  give  should  be 
so  placed  that  although  I  cannot  ask  for  its  return,  yet  it 
may  be  given  back  to  me.  A  benefit  should  be  invested 
in  the  same  manner  as  a  treasure  buried  deep  in  the 
earth,  which  you  would  not  dig  up  unless  actually 
obliged.  Why,  what  opportunities  of  conferring  benefits 
the  mere  house  of  a  rich  man  affords  ?  for  who  considers 
generous  behaviour  due  only  to  those  who  wear  the  toga  ? 
Nature  bids  me  do  good  to  mankind — what  difference  does 
it  make  whether  they  be  slaves  or  freemen,  free-bom  or 
emancipated,  whether  their  freedom  be  legally  acquired  or 
betowed  by  arrangement  among  friends  ?  Wherever  there 
is  a  human  being,  there  is  an  opportunity  for  a  benefit : 
consequently,  money  may  be  distributed  even  within  one's 
own  threshold,  and  a  field  may  be  found  there  for  the 
practice  of  freehandedness,  which  is  not  so  called  because 
it  is  our  duty  towards  free  men,  but  because  it  takes  its 
rise  in  a  free-born  mind.  In  the  case  of  the  wise  man,  this 
never  falls  upon  base  and  unworthy  recipients,  and  never 
becomes  so  exhausted  as  not,  whenever  it  finds  a  worthy 
object,  to  flow  as  if  its  store  was  undiminished.  You  have, 
therefore,  no  grounds  for  misunderstanding  the  honourable, 
brave,  and  spirited  language  which  you  hear  from  those 
who  are  studying  wisdom  :  and  first  of  all  observe  this, 
that  a  student  of  wisdom  is  not  the  same  thing  as  a  man 
who  has  made  himself  perfect  in  wisdom.  The  former  will 
say  to  you,  "  In  my  talk  I  express  the  most  admirable  senti- 


CH.  XXV.]  OF    A    HAPPY    LIFE.  233 

ments,  yet  I  am  still  weltering  amid  countless  ills.  You 
must  not  force  me  to  act  up  to  my  rules :  at  the  present 
time  I  am  forming  myself,  moulding  my  character,  and 
striving  to  rise  myself  to  the  height  of  a  great  example.  If 
I  should  ever  succeed  in  carrying  out  all  that  I  have  set 
myself  to  accomplish,  you  may  then  demand  that  my  words 
and  deeds  should  correspond."  But  he  who  has  reached 
the  summit  of  human  perfection  will  deal  otherwise  with 
you,  and  will  say,  "  In  the  first  place,  you  have  no  business 
to  allow  yourself  to  sit  in  judgment  upon  your  betters:" 
I  have  already  obtained  one  proof  of  my  righteousness  in 
having  become  an  object  of  dislike  to  bad  men :  however, 
to  make  you  a  rational  answer,  which  I  grudge  to  no  man, 
listen  to  what  I  declare,  and  at  what  price  I  value  all  things. 
Eiches,  I  say,  are  not  a  good  thing ;  for  if  they  were,  they 
would  make  men  good :  now  since  that  which  is  found 
even  among  bad  men  cannot  be  termed  good,  I  do  not 
allow  them  to  be  called  so  :  nevertheless  I  admit  that  they 
are  desirable  and  useful  and  contribute  great  comforts  to 
our  lives. 

XXV.  Learn,  then,  since  we  both  agree  that  they  are 
desirable,  what  my  reason  is  amongst  counting  them  among 
good  things,  and  in  what  respects  I  should  behave  differently 
to  you  if  I  possessed  them.  Place  me  as  master  in  the 
house  of  a  very  rich  man  :  place  me  where  gold  and  silver 
plate  is  used  for  the  commonest  purposes ;  I  shall  not 
think  more  of  myself  because  of  things  which  even  though 
they  are  in  my  house  are  yet  no  part  of  me.  Take  me 
away  to  the  wooden  bridge  ^  and  put  me  down  there  among 
the  beggars:  I  shall  not  despise  myself  because  I  am 
sitting  among  those  who  hold  out  their  hands  for  alms  : 
for  what  can  the  lack  of  a  piece  of  bread  matter  to  one 

^  The  "Pons  Sublicius,"  or  "  pile  bridge,"  was  built  over  the  Tiber 
by  Ancus  Martins,  one  of  the  early  kings  of  Rome,  and  was  always 
kept  in  repair  out  of  a  superstitious  feeling. 


284  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

wlio  does  not  lack  the  power  of  dying  ?  Well,  then  ?  I 
prefer  the  magnificent  house  to  the  beggar's  bridge.  Place 
me  among  magnificent  furniture  and  all  the  appliances  of 
luxury :  I  shall  not  think  myself  any  happier  because  my 
cloak  is  soft,  because  my  guests  rest  upon  purple.  Change 
the  scene :  I  shall  be  no  more  miserable  if  my  weary  head 
rests  upon  a  bundle  of  hay,  if  I  lie  upon  a  cushion  from  the 
circus,  with  all  the  stuffing  on  the  point  of  coming  out 
through  its  patches  of  threadbare  cloth.  Well,  then  ?  I 
prefer,  as  far  as  my  feelings  go,  to  show  myself  in  public 
dressed  in  woollen  and  in  robes  of  office,  rather  than  with 
naked  or  half-covered  shoulders  :  I  should  like  every  day's 
business  to  turn  out  just  as  I  wish  it  to  do,  and  new  con- 
gratulations to  be  constantly  following  upon  the  former 
ones  :  yet  I  will  not  pride  myself  upon  this :  change  all 
this  good  fortune  for  its  opposite,  let  my  spirit  be  dis- 
tracted by  losses,  grief,  various  kinds  of  attacks :  let  no 
hour  pass  without  some  dispute  :  I  shall  not  on  this  account, 
though  beset  by  the  greatest  miseries,  call  myself  the  most 
miserable  of  beings,  nor  shall  I  curse  any  particular  day, 
for  I  have  taken  care  to  have  no  unlucky  days.  What,  then, 
is  the  upshot  of  all  this  ?  it  is  that  I  prefer  to  have  to  regulate 
joys  than  to  stifle  sorrows.  The  great  Socrates  would  say 
the  same  thing  to  you.  "  Make  me,"  he  would  say,  "  the 
conqueror  of  all  nations :  let  the  voluptuous  car  of  Bacchus 
bear  me  in  triumph  to  Thebes  from  the  rising  of  the  sun  : 
let  the  kings  of  the  Persians  receive  laws  from  me :  yet  I 
shall  feel  myself  to  be  a  man  at  the  very  moment  when  all 
around  salute  me  as  a  God.  Straightway  connect  this 
lofty  height  with  a  headlong  fall  into  misfortune  :  let  me 
be  placed  upon  a  foreign  chariot  that  I  may  grace  the 
triumph  of  a  proud  and  savage  conqueror :  I  will  follow 
another's  car  with  no  more  humility  than  I  showed  when  I 
stood  in  my  own.  What  then  ?  In  spite  of  all  this,  I  had 
rather  be  a  conqueror  than  a  captive.     I  despise  the  whole 


CH.  XXVI.]  OF   A  HAPPY   LIFE.  235 

dominion  of  Fortune,  but  still,  if  I  were  given  my  choice,  I 
would  choose  its  better  parts.  I  shall  make  whatever  befals 
me  become  a  good  thing,  but  I  prefer  that  what  befals  me 
should  be  comfortable  and  pleasant  and  unlikely  to  cause 
me  annoyance  :  for  you  need  not  suppose  that  any  virtue 
exists  without  labour,  but  some  virtues  need  spurs,  while 
others  need  the  curb.  As  we  have  to  check  our  body  on  a 
downward  path,  and  to  urge  it  to  climb  a  steep  one  ;  so 
also  the  path  of  some  virtues  leads  down  hill,  that  of  others 
uphill.  Can  we  doubt  that  patience,  courage,  constancy, 
and  all  the  other  virtues  which  have  to  meet  strong  opposi- 
tion, and  to  trample  Fortune  under  their  feet,  are  climbing, 
struggling,  winning  their  way  up  a  steep  ascent  ?  Why  ! 
is  it  not  equally  evident  that  generosity,  moderation,  and 
gentleness  glide  easily  downhill  ?  "With  the  latter  we 
must  hold  in  our  spirit,  lest  it  run  away  with  us  :  with  the 
former  we  must  urge  and  spur  it  on.  We  ought,  therefore, 
to  apply  these  energetic,  combative  virtues  to  poverty,  and 
to  riches  those  other  more  thrifty  ones  which  trip  lightly 
along,  and  merely  support  their  own  weight.  This  being 
the  distinction  between  them,  1  would  rather  have  to  deal 
with  those  which  I  could  practise  in  comparative  quiet, 
than  those  of  which  one  can  only  make  trial  through  blood 
and  sweat.  "  Wherefore,"  says  the  sage,  "  I  do  not  talk  one 
way  and  live  another  :  but  you  do  not  rightly  understand 
what  I  say :  the  sound  of  my  words  alone  reaches  your  ears, 
you  do  not  try  to  find  out  their  meaning." 

XXVI.  "What  difference,  then,  is  there  between  me, 
who  am  a  fool,  and  you,  who  are  a  wise  man  ?  "  "  All  the 
difference  in  the  world  :  for  riches  are  slaves  in  the  house 
of  a  wise  man,  but  masters  in  that  of  a  fool.  You  accustom 
yourself  to  them  and  cling  to  them  as  if  somebody  had  pro- 
mised that  they  should  be  yours  for  ever,  but  a  wise  man 
never  thinks  so  much  about  poverty  as  when  he  is  sur- 
rounded by  riches.     No  general  ever  trusts  so  implicitly  in 


236  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

the  maintenance  of  peace  as  not  to  make  himself  ready  for  a 
war,  which,  though  it  may  not  actually  be  waged,  has 
nevertheless  been  declared;  you  are  rendered  over- proud 
by  a  fine  house,  as  though  it  could  never  be  burned  or  fall 
down,  and  your  heads  are  turned  by  riches  as  though  they 
were  beyond  the  reach  of  all  dangers  and  were  so  great  that 
Fortune  has  not  sufficient  strength  to  swallow  them  up. 
You  sit  idly  playing  with  your  wealth  and  do  not  foresee  the 
perils  in  store  for  it,  as  savages  generally  do  when  besieged, 
for,  not  understanding  the  use  of  siege  artillery,  they  look 
on  idly  at  the  labours  of  the  besiegers  and  do  not  under- 
stand the  object  of  the  machines  which  they  are  putting 
together  at  a  distance :  and  this  is  exactly  what  happens 
to  you  :  you  go  to  sleep  over  your  property,  and  never  re- 
flect how  many  misfortunes  loom  menacingly  around  you 
on  all  sides,  and  soon  will  plunder  you  of  costly  spoils  ,  but 
if  one  takes  away  riches  from  the  wise  man,  one  leaves  him 
still  in  possession  of  all  that  is  his :  for  he  lives  happy  in 
the  present,  and  without  fear  for  the  future.  The  great 
Socrates,  or  any  one  else  who  had  the  same  superiority  to 
and  power  to  withstand  the  things  of  this  life,  would  say, '  I 
have  no  more  fixed  principle  than  that  of  not  altering  the 
course  of  my  life  to  suit  your  prejudices :  you  may  pour 
your  accustomed  talk  upon  me  from  all  sides  :  I  shall  not 
think  that  you  are  abusing  me,  but  that  you  are  merely 
wailing  like  poor  little  babies.'  "  This  is  what  the  man  will 
say  who  possesses  wisdom,  whose  mind,  being  free  from 
vices,  bids  him  reproach  others,  not  because  he  hates  them, 
but  in  order  to  improve  them :  and  to  this  he  will  add, 
"  Your  opinion  of  me  affects  me  with  pain,  not  for  my  own 
sake  but  for  yours,  because  to  hate  perfection  and  to  assail 
virtue  is  in  itself  a  resignation  of  all  hope  of  doing  well. 
You  do  me  no  harm  ;  neither  do  men  harm  the  gods  when 
they  overthrow  their  altars :  but  it  is  clear  that  your  inten- 
tion is  an  evil  one  and  that  you  will  wish  to  do  harm  even 


CH.  XXYI.]  OF  A   HAPPY  LIFE.  237 

where  yon  are  not  able.     I  bear  witb  your  prating  in  the 
same  spirit  in  which  Jupiter,  best  and  greatest,  bears  with 
the  idle  tales  of  the  poets,  one  of  whom  represents  him  with 
wings,  another  with  horns,  another  as  an  adulterer  staying 
out  all  night,  another  is  dealing  harshly  with  the  gods, 
another  as  unjust  to  men,  another  as  the  seducer  of  noble 
youths  whom  he  carries  off  by  force,  and  those,  too,  his  own 
relatives,    another   as    a   parricide   and  the  conqueror  of 
another's  kingdom,  and  that  his  father's.     The  only  result 
of  such  tales  is  that  men  feel  less  shame  at  committing  sin 
if  they  believe  the  gods  to  be  guilty  of  such  actions.     But 
although  this  conduct  of  yours  does  not  hurt  me,  yet,  for 
your  own  sakes,  I  advise  you,  respect  virtue  :  believe  those 
who  having  long  followed  her  cry  aloud  that  what  they 
follow   is  a  thing  of  might,  and  daily  appears  mightier. 
Reverence   her   as   you   would  the    gods,    and    reverence 
her  followers  as  you  would  the  priests  of  the  gods:  and 
whenever  any  mention  of  sacred  writings  is  made,  favete 
Unguis,  favour  us  with  silence  :  this  word  is  not  derived,  as 
most  people  imagine,  from  favour,  but  commands  silence, 
that  divine  service  may  be  performed  without  being  inter- 
rupted by  any  words  of  evil  omen.    It  is  much  more  neces- 
sary that  you  should  be  ordered  to  do  this,  in  order  that 
whenever  utterance  is  made  by  that  oracle,  you  may  listen 
to  it  with  attention  and  in  silence.    Whenever  any  one  beats 
a  sistrum,^  pretending  to  do  so  by  divine  command,  any 
proficient  in   grazing  his  own  skin  covers  his  arms  and 
shoulders  with  blood  from  light  cuts,  any  one  crawls  on  his 
knees  howling  along  the  street,  or  any  old  man  clad  in 
linen  comes  forth  in  daylight  with  a  lamp  and  laurel  branch 
and  cries  out  that  one  of  the  gods  is  angry,  you  crowd 
round  him  and  listen  to  his  words,  and  each  increases  the 

*  Sistrum.    A  metallic  rattle  used  by  the  Egyptians  in  celebrating  the 
rites  of  Isis,  &c. — Andeews. 


238  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VII. 

otlier's  wonderment  by  declaring  him  to  be  divinely  in- 
spired. 

XXYII.  Behold  !  from  that  prison  of  his,  which  by  en- 
tering he  cleansed  from  shame  and  rendered  more  honour- 
able than  any  senate  house,  Socrates  addresses  you,  saying  : 
"  What  is  this  madness  of  yours  ?  what  is  this  disposition, 
at  war  alike  with  gods  and  men,  which  leads  you  to  calum- 
niate virtue  and  to  outrage  holiness  with  malicious  accu- 
sations ?  Praise  good  men,  if  you  are  able  :  if  not,  pass 
them  by  in  silence :  if  indeed  you  take  pleasure  in  this 
offensive  abusiveness,  fall  foul  of  one  another:  for  when 
you  rave  against  Heaven,  I  do  not  say  that  you  commit 
sacrilege,  but  you  waste  your  time.  I  once  afforded  Aristo- 
phanes with  the  subject  of  a  jest :  since  then  all  the  crew  of 
comic  poets  have  made  me  a  mark  for  their  envenomed 
wit :  my  virtue  has  been  made  to  shine  more  brightly  by 
the  very  blows  which  have  been  aimed  at  it,  for  it  is  to  its 
advantage  to  be  brought  before  the  public  and  exposed  to 
temptation,  nor  do  any  people  understand  its  greatness 
more  than  those  who  by  their  assaults  have  made  trial  of 
its  strength.  The  hardness  of  flint  is  known  to  none  so 
well  as  to  those  who  strike  it.  I  offer  myself  to  all  attacks, 
like  some  lonely  rook  in  a  shallow  sea,  which  the  waves 
never  cease  to  beat  upon  from  whatever  quarter  they  may 
come,  but  which  they  cannot  thereby  move  from  its  place 
nor  yet  wear  away,  for  however  many  years  they  may  un- 
ceasingly dash  against  it.  Bound  upon  me,  rush  upon  me,  I 
will  overcome  you  by  enduring  your  onset :  whatever  strikes 
against  that  which  is  firm  and  unconquerable  merely  in- 
jures itself  by  its  own  violence.  Wherefore,  seek  some 
soft  and  yielding  object  to  pierce  with  your  darts.  But 
have  you  leisure  to  peer  into  other  men's  evil  deeds  and  to 
sit  in  judgment  upon  anybody  ?  to  ask  how  it  is  that  this 
philosopher  has  so  roomy  a  house,  or  that  one  so  good  a 
dinner  ?    Do  you  look  at  other  people's  pimples  while  you 


CH.  XXVIII.]  OF  A  HAPPY  LIFE.  239 

yourselves  are  covered  with  cotmtless  ulcers  ?  This  is  as 
though  one  who  was  eaten  up  by  the  mange  were  to  point 
with  scorn  at  the  moles  and  warts  on  the  bodies  of  the 
handsomest  men.  Reproach  Plato  with  having  sought  for 
money,  reproach  Aristotle  with  having  obtained  it,  Demo- 
critus  with  having  disregarded  it,  Epicurus  with  having 
spent  it :  cast  Phaedrus  and  Alcibiades  in  my  own  teeth, 
you  who  reach  the  height  of  enjoyment  whenever  you  get 
an  opportunity  of  imitating  our  vices !  Why  do  you  not 
rather  cast  your  eyes  around  yourselves  at  the  ills  which 
tear  you  to  pieces  on  every  side,  some  attacking  you  from 
without,  some  burning  in  your  own  bosoms  ?  However 
little  you  know  your  own  place,  mankind  has  not  yet  come 
to  such  a  pass  that  you  can  have  leisure  to  wag  your  tongues 
to  the  reproach  of  your  betters. 

XXVIII.  This  you  do  not  understand,  and  you  bear  a 
countenance  which  does  not  befit  your  condition,  like  many 
men  who  sit  in  the  circus  or  the  theatre  without  having 
learned  that  their  home  is  already  in  mourning  :  but  I,  look- 
ing forward  from  a  lofty  standpoint,  can  see  what  storms  are 
either  threatening  you,  and  will  burst  in  torrents  upon  you 
somewhat  later,  or  are  close  upon  you  and  on  the  point  of 
sweeping  away  all  that  you  possess.  Why,  though  you  are 
hardly  aware  of  it,  is  there  not  a  whirling  hurricane  at  this 
moment  spinning  round  and  confusing  your  minds,  making 
them  seek  and  avoid  the  very  same  things,  now  raising 
them  aloft  and  now  dashing  them  below  ? " 


240 


THE   EIGHTH    BOOK    OF   THE   DIALOGUES 

OF  L.  ANNAEUS   SENECA, 

ADDEESSED    TO  SERENUS. 

OF   LEISURE. 

I. 

....  why  do  they  with  great  unanimity  recommend 
vices  to  TLs?  even  though  we  attempt  nothing  else  that 
would  do  us  good,  yet  retirement  in  itself  will  be  bene- 
ficial to  us  :  we  shall  be  better  men  when  taken  singly — 
and  if  so,  what  an  advantage  it  will  be  to  retire  into  the 
society  of  the  best  of  men,  and  to  choose  some  example  by 
which  we  may  guide  our  lives  !  This  cannot  be  done 
without  leisure  :  with  leisure  we  can  carry  out  that  which 
we  have  once  for  all  decided  to  be  best,  when  there  is  no 
one  to  interfere  with  us  and  with  the  help  of  the  mob  per- 
vert our  as  yet  feeble  judgment :  with  leisure  only  can  life, 
which  we  distract  by  aiming  at  the  most  incompatible 
objects,  flow  on  in  a  single  gentle  stream.  Indeed,  the 
worst  of  our  various  ills  is  that  we  change  our  very  vices, 
and  so  we  have  not  even  the  advantage  of  dealing  with  a 
well-known  form  of  evil :  we  take  pleasure  first  in  one  and 
then  in  another,  and  are,  besides,  troubled  by  the  fact  that 
our  opinions  are  not  only  wrong,  but  lightly  formed  ;  we 
toss  as  it  were  on  waves,  and  clutch  at  one  thing  after 
another:  we  let  go  what  we  just  now  sought  for,   and 


CH.  II.]  OF  LEISURE.  241 

strive  to  recover  what  we  have  let  go.  We  oscillate  be- 
tween desire  and  remorse,  for  we  depend  entirely  upon  the 
opinions  of  others,  and  it  is  that  which  many  people  praise 
and  seek  after,  not  that  which  deserves  to  be  praised  and 
sought  after,  which  we  consider  to  be  best.  Nor  do  we 
take  any  heed  of  whether  our  road  be  good  or  bad  in 
itself,  but  we  value  it  by  the  number  of  footprints  upon  it, 
among  which  there  are  none  of  any  who  have  returned. 
You  will  say  to  me,  "  Seneca,  what  are  you  doing  ?  do  you 
desert  your  party  ?  I  am  sure  that  our  Stoic  philosophers 
say  we  must  be  in  motion  up  to  the  very  end  of  our  life, 
we  will  never  cease  to  labour  for  the  general  good,  to  help 
individual  people,  and  when  stricken  in  years  to  afford 
assistance  even  to  our  enemies.  We  are  the  sect  that 
gives  no  discharge  for  any  number  of  years'  service,  and 
in  the  words  of  the  most  eloquent  of  poets  : — 

'  We  wear  the  helmet  when  our  locks  are  grey.'  ^ 
We  are  they  who  are  so  far  from  indulging  in  any  leisure 
until  we  die,  that  if  circumstances  permit  it,  we  do  not 
allow  ourselves  to  be  at  leisure  even  when  we  are  dying. 
Why  do  you  preach  the  maxims  of  Epicurus  in  the  very 
headquarters  of  Zeno?  nay,  if  you  are  ashamed  of  your 
party,  why  do  you  not  go  openly  altogether  over  to  the 
enemy  rather  than  betray  your  own  side  ?  "  I  will  answer 
this  question  straightway  :  What  more  can  you  wish  than 
that  I  should  imitate  my  leaders  ?  What  then  follows  ? 
I  shall  go  whither  they  lead  me,  not  whither  they  send 
me. 

II.  Now  I  will  prove  to  you  that  I  am  not  deserting  the 

»  Virg.  "  ^n."  ix.  612.     Compare  Sir  Walter  Scott, "  Lay  of  the  Last 
Minstrel,"  canto  iv. : — 

"  And  still,  in  age,  he  spurned  at  rest, 
And  still  his  brows  the  helmet  pressed, 
Albeit  the  blanched  locks  below 
Were  white  as  Dinlay's  spotless  snow,"  &c. 
R 


242  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VIII. 

tenets  of  the  Stoics :  for  thej  themselves  have  not  de- 
serted them :  and  yet  I  should  be  able  to  plead  a  very- 
good  excuse  even  if  I  did  follow,  not  their  precepts,  but  their 
examples.  I  shall  divide  what  I  am  about  to  say  into  two 
parts :  first,  that  a  man  may  from  the  very  beginning  of 
his  life  give  himself  up  entirely  to  the  contemplation  of 
truth  ;  secondly,  that  a  man  when  he  has  already  com- 
pleted his  term  of  service,  has  the  best  of  rights,  that  of 
his  shattered  health,  to  do  this,  and  that  he  may  then 
apply  his  mind  to  other  studies  after  the  manner  of  the 
Vestal  virgins,  who  allot  different  duties  to  different  years, 
first  learn  how  to  perform  the  sacred  rites,  and  when  they 
have  learned  them  teach  others. 

III.  I  will  show  that  this  is  approved  of  by  the  Stoics  also, 
not  that  I  have  laid  any  commandment  upon  myself  to  do 
nothing  contrary  to  the  teaching  of  Zeno  and  Chrysippus, 
but  because  the  matter  itself  allows  me  to  follow  the  pre- 
cepts of  those  men  ;  for  if  one  always  follows  the  precepts 
of  one  man,  one  ceases  to  be  a  debater  and  becomes  a 
partizan.  Would  that  all  things  were  already  known,  that 
truth  were  unveiled  and  recognized,  and  that  none  of  our 
doctrines  required  modification  !  but  as  it  is  we  have  to 
seek  for  truth  in  the  company  of  the  very  men  who  teach 
it.  The  two  sects  of  Epicureans  and  Stoics  differ  widely 
in  most  respects,  and  on  this  point  among  the  rest,  never- 
theless, each  of  them  consigns  us  to  leisure,  although  by  a 
different  road.  Epicurus  says,  "  The  wise  man  will  not 
take  part  in  politics,  except  upon  some  special  occasion  ;  " 
Zeno  says,  "The  wise  man  will  take  part  in  politics,  unless 
prevented  by  some  special  circumstance."  The  one  makes 
it  his  aim  in  life  to  seek  for  leisure,  the  other  seeks  it  only 
when  he  has  reasons  for  so  doing :  but  this  word  "reasons  " 
has  a  wide  signification.  If  the  state  is  so  rotten  as  to  be 
past  helping,  if  evil  has  entire  dominion  over  it,  the  wise 
man  will  not  labour  in  vain  or  waste  his  strength  in  un- 


CH.  IV.]  OF   LEISURE.  243 

profitable  efforts.  Should  he  be  deficient  in  influence  or 
bodily  strength,  if  the  state  refuse  to  submit  to  his  guidance, 
if  his  health  stand  in  the  way,  then  he  will  not  attempt  a 
journey  for  which  he  is  unfit,  just  as  he  would  not  put  to 
sea  in  a  worn-out  ship,  or  enlist  in  the  army  if  he  were  an 
invalid.  Consequently,  one  who  has  not  yet  suffered  either 
in  health  or  fortune  has  the  right,  before  encountering  any 
storms,  to  establish  himself  in  safety,  and  thenceforth  to 
devote  himself  to  honourable  industry  and  inviolate  leisure, 
and  the  service  of  those  virtues  which  can  be  practised 
even  by  those  who  pass  the  quietest  of  lives.  The  duty  of 
a  man  is  to  be  useful  to  his  fellow-men  ;  if  possible,  to  be 
useful  to  many  of  them ;  failing  this,  to  be  useful  to  a  few  ; 
failing  this,  to  be  useful  to  his  neighbours,  and,  failing 
them,  to  himself :  for  when  he  helps  others,  he  advances 
the  general  interests  of  mankind.  Just  as  he  who  makes 
himself  a  worse  man  does  harm  not  only  to  himself  but  to 
all  those  to  whom  he  might  have  done  good  if  he  had  made 
himself  a  better  one,  so  he  who  deserves  well  of  himself 
does  good  to  others  by  the  very  fact  that  he  is  preparing 
what  will  be  of  service  to  them. 

lY.  Let  us  grasp  the  fact  that  there  are  two  republics, 
one  vast  and  truly  "public,"  which  contains  alike  gods  and 
men,  in  which  we  do  not  take  account  of  this  or  that  nook 
of  land,  but  make  the  boundaries  of  our  state  reach  as  far 
as  the  rays  of  the  sun  :  and  another  to  which  we  have  been 
assigned  by  the  accident  of  birth.  This  may  be  that  of 
the  Athenians  or  Carthaginians,  or  of  any  other  city  which 
■does  not  belong  to  all  men  but  to  some  especial  ones. 
Some  men  serve  both  of  these  states,  the  greater  and  the 
lesser,  at  the  same  time  ;  some  serve  only  the  lesser,  some 
only  the  greater.  We  can  serve  the  greater  commonwealth 
even  when  we  are  at  leisure ;  indeed  I  am  not  sure  that  we 
cannot  serve  it  better  when  we  are  at  leisure  to  inquire 
into    what   virtue   is,    and   whether   it  be  one  or  manv : 


244  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [BK.  VIII. 

whether  it  be  nature  or  art  that  makes  men  good :  whether 
that  which  contains  the  earth  and  sea  and  all  that  in  them 
is  be  one,  or  whether  God  has  placed  therein  many  bodies 
of  the  same  species  :  whether  that  out  of  which  all  things 
are  made  be  continuous  and  solid,  or  containing  interstices 
and  alternate  empty  and  full  spaces  :  whether  God  idly 
looks  on  at  His  handiwork,  or  directs  its  course  :  whether 
He  is  without  and  around  the  world,  or  whether  He  per- 
vades its  entire  surface :  whether  the  world  be  immortal, 
or  doomed  to  decay  and  belonging  to  the  class  of  things 
which  are  born  only  for  a  time  ?  What  service  does  he  who 
meditates  upon  these  questions  render  to  God  ?  He  pre- 
vents these  His  great  works  having  no  one  to  witness  them. 
Y.  We  have  a  habit  of  saying  that  the  highest  good  is  to 
live  according  to  nature :  now  nature  has  produced  us  for 
both  purposes,  for  contemplation  and  for  action.  Let  us 
now  prove  what  we  said  before  :  nay,  who  will  not  think 
this  proved  if  he  bethinks  himself  how  great  a  passion  he 
has  for  discovering  the  unknown  ?  how  vehemently  his 
curiosity  is  roused  by  every  kind  of  romantic  tale.  Some 
men  make  long  voyages  and  undergo  the  toils  of  journeying 
to  distant  lands  for  no  reward  except  that  of  discovering 
something  hidden  and  remote.  This  is  what  draws  people 
to  public  shows,  and  causes  them  to  pry  into  everything 
that  is  closed,  to  puzzle  out  everything  that  is  secret,  to 
clear  up  points  of  antiquity,  and  to  listen  to  tales  of  the 
customs  of  savage  nations.  Nature  has  bestowed  upon  us 
an  inquiring  disposition,  and  being  well  aware  of  her  own 
skill  and  beauty,  has  produced  us  to  be  spectators  of  her 
vast  works,  because  she  would  lose  all  the  fruits  of  her 
labour  if  she  were  to  exhibit  such  vast  and  noble  works  of 
such  complex  construction,  so  bright  and  beautiful  in  so 
many  ways,  to  solitude  alone.  That  you  may  be  sure  that 
she  wishes  to  be  gazed  upon,  not  merely  looked  at,  see 
what  a  place  she  has  assigned  to  us  :   she  has  placed  us  in. 


CH.  Y.]  OF   LEISURE.  245 

the  middle  of  herself  and  given  us  a  prospect  all  around. 
She  has  not  only  set  man  erect  upon  his  feet,  but  also  with 
a  view  to  making  it  easy  for  him  to  watch  the  heavens, 
she  has  raised  his  head  on  high  and  connected  it  with  a 
pliant  neck,  in  order  that  he  might  follow  the  course  of  the 
stars  from  their  rising  to  their  setting,  and  move  his  face 
round  with  the  whole  heaven.  Moreover,  by  carrying 
six  constellations  across  the  sky  by  day,  and  six  by  night, 
she  displays  every  part  of  herself  in  such  a  manner  that  by 
what  she  brings  before  man's  eyes  she  renders  him  eager 
to  see  the  rest  also.  For  we  have  not  beheld  all  things, 
nor  yet  the  true  extent  of  them,  but  our  eyesight  does  but 
open  to  itself  the  right  path  for  research,  and  lay  the 
foundation,  from  which  our  speculations  may  pass  from 
what  is  obvious  to  what  is  less  known,  and  find  out  some- 
thing more  ancient  than  the  world  itself,  from  whence 
those  stars  came  forth :  inquire  what  was  the  condition  of 
the  universe  before  each  of  its  elements  were  separated 
from  the  general  mass  :  on  what  principle  its  confused  and 
blended  parts  were  divided  :  who  assigned  their  places  to 
things,  whether  it  was  by  their  own  nature  that  what  was 
heavy  sunk  downwards,  and  what  was  light  flew  upwards, 
or  whether  besides  the  stress  and  weight  of  bodies  some 
higher  power  gave  laws  to  each  of  them  :  whether  that 
greatest  proof  that  the  spirit  of  man  is  divine  be  true,  the 
theory,  namely,  that  some  parts  and  as  it  were  sparks  of 
the  stars  have  fallen  down  upon  earth  and  stuck  there  in  a 
foreign  substance.  Our  thought  bursts  through  the  battle- 
ments of  heaven,  and  is  not  satisfied  with  knowing  only 
what  is  shown  to  us  :  "I  investigate,"  it  says,  "  that  which 
lies  without  the  world,  whether  it  be  a  bottomless  abyss,  or 
whether  it  also  is  confined  within  boundaries  of  its 
own :  what  the  appearance  of  the  things  outside  may  be, 
whether  they  be  shapeless  and  vague,  extending  equally 
in  every   direction,    or   whether   they    also   are    arranged 


246  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  VIII, 

in  a  certain  kind  of  order  :  whether  they  are  connected 
with  this  world  of  ours,  or  are  widely  separated  from 
it  and  welter  about  in  empty  space :  whether  they  con- 
sist of  distinct  atoms,  of  which  everything  that  is  and 
that  is  to  be,  is  made,  or  whether  their  substance  is  un- 
interrupted and  all  of  it  capable  of  change  :  whether  the 
elements  are  naturally  opposed  to  one  another,  or  whether 
they  are  not  at  variance,  but  work  towards  the  same  end 
by  different  means."  Since  man  was  born  for  such  specu- 
lations as  these,  consider  how  short  a  time  he  has  been 
given  for  them,  even  supposing  that  he  makes  good  his 
claims  to  the  whole  of  it,  allows  no  part  of  it  to  be  wrested 
from  him  through  good  nature,  or  to  slip  away  from  him 
through  carelessness  ;  though  he  watches  over  all  his  hours 
with  most  miserly  care,  though  he  live  to  the  extreme  con- 
fines of  human  existence,  and  though  misfortune  take 
nothing  away  from  what  Nature  bestowed  upon  him,  even 
then  man  is  too  mortal  for  the  comprehension  of  immortality. 
I  live  according  to  Nature,  therefore,  if  I  give  myself 
entirely  up  to  her,  and  if  I  admire  and  reverence  her. 
Nature,  however,  intended  me  to  do  both,  to  practise  both 
contemplation  and  action :  and  I  do  both,  because  even 
contemplation  is  not  devoid  of  action. 

yi.  "But,"  say  you,  "it  makes  a  difference  whether 
you  adopt  the  contemplative  life  for  the  sake  of  your  own 
pleasure,  demanding  nothing  from  it  save  unbroken  con- 
templation without  any  result :  for  such  a  life  is  a  sweet  one 
and  has  attractions  of  its  own."  To  this  I  answer  you  :  It 
makes  just  as  much  difference  in  what  spirit  you  lead  the 
life  of  a  public  man,  whether  you  are  never  at  rest,  and 
never  set  apart  any  time  during  which  you  may  turn  your 
eyes  away  from  the  things  of  earth  to  those  of  Heaven.  It 
is  by  no  means  desirable  that  one  should  merely  strive  to 
accumulate  property  without  any  love  of  virtue,  or  do 
nothing   but   hard   work  without  any   cultivation  of  the 


CH.  VI.]  OF    LEISURE.  247 

intellect,  for  these  things  ought  to  be  combined  and  blended 
together  ;  and,  similarly,  virtue  placed  in  leisure  without 
actipn  is  but  an  incomplete  and  feeble  good  thing,  because 
she  never  displays  what  she  has  learned.  Who  can  deny 
that  she  ought  to  test  her  progress  in  actual  work,  and  not 
merely  think  what  ought  to  be  done,  but  also  sometimes 
use  her  hands  as  well  as  her  head,  and  bring  her  con- 
ceptions into  actual  being  ?  But  if  the  wise  man  be  quite 
willing  to  act  thus,  if  it  be  the  things  to  be  done,  not  the 
man  to  do  them  that  are  wanting,  will  you  not  then 
allow  him  to  live  to  himself  ?  "What  is  the  wise  man's 
purpose  in  devoting  himself  to  leisure  ?  He  knows  that  in 
leisure  as  well  as  in  action  he  will  accomplish  something  by 
which  he  will  be  of  service  to  posterity.  Our  school  at  any 
rate  declares  that  Zeno  and  Chrysippus  have  done  greater 
things  than  they  would  have  done  had  they  been  in  com- 
mand of  armies,  or  filled  high  offices,  or  passed  laws : 
which  latter  indeed  they  did  pass,  though  not  for  one  single 
state,  but  for  the  whole  human  race.  How  then  can  it  be 
unbecoming  to  a  good  man  to  enjoy  a  leisure  such  as  this, 
by  whose  means  he  gives  laws  to  ages  to  come,  and 
addresses  himself  not  to  a  few  persons  but  to  all  men  of  all 
nations,  both  now  and  hereafter  ?  To  sum  up  the  matter,  I 
ask  you  whether  Cleanthes,  Chrysippus,  and  Zeno  lived  in 
accordance  with  their  doctrine  ?  I  am  sure  that  you  will 
answer  that  they  lived  in  the  manner  in  which  they  taught 
that  men  ought  to  live :  yet  no  one  of  them  governed  a 
state.  "  They  had  not,"  you  reply,  "the  amount  of  property 
or  social  position  which  as  a  rule  enables  people  to  take 
part  in  public  affairs."  Yet  for  all  that  they  did  not  live 
an  idle  life  :  they  found  the  means  of  making  their  retire- 
ment more  useful  to  mankind  than  the  perspirings  and 
runnings  to  and  fro  of  other  men  :  wherefore  these  persons 
are  thought  to  have  done  great  things,  in  spite  of  their 
having  done  nothing  of  a  public  character. 


248  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  YIII. 

YII.  Morever,  there  are  three  kinds  of  life,  and  it  is  a 
stock  question  which  of  the  three  is  the  best :  the  first  is 
devoted  to  pleasure,  the  second  to  contemplation,  the  third 
to  action.  First,  let  us  lay  aside  all  disputatiousness  and 
bitterness  of  feeling,  which,  as  we  have  stated,  causes  those 
whose  paths  in  life  are  different  to  hate  one  another  beyond 
all  hope  of  reconciliation,  and  let  us  see  whether  all 
these  three  do  not  come  to  the  same  thing,  although  under 
different  names  :  for  neither  he  who  decides  for  pleasure 
is  without  contemplation,  nor  is  he  who  gives  himself  up  to 
contemplation  without  pleasure :  nor  yet  is  he,  whose  life 
is  devoted  to  action,  without  contemplation.  *'It  makes," 
you  say,  "all  the  difference  in  the  world,  whether  a 
thing  is  one's  main  object  in  life,  or  whether  it  be  merely 
an  appendage  to  some  other  object."  I  admit  that  the 
difference  is  considerable,  nevertheless  the  one  does  not 
exist  apart  from  the  other :  the  one  man  cannot  live  in 
contemplation  without  action,  nov  can  the  other  act  without 
contemplation  :  and  even  the  third,  of  whom  we  all  agree 
in  having  a  bad  opinion,  does  not  approve  of  passive 
pleasure,  but  of  that  which  he  establishes  for  himself  by 
means  of  reason :  even  this  pleasure- seeking  sect  itself, 
therefore,  practises  action  also.  Of  course  it  does,  since 
Epicurus  himself  says  that  at  times  he  would  abandon 
pleasure  and  actually  seek  for  pain,  if  he  became  likely  to 
be  surfeited  with  pleasure,  or  if  he  thought  that  by  enduring 
a  slight  pain  he  might  avoid  a  greater  one.  With  what 
purpose  do  I  state  this  ?  To  prove  that  all  men  are  fond 
of  contemplation.  Some  make  it  the  object  of  their  lives  : 
to  us  it  is  an  anchorage,  but  not  a  harbour. 

VIII.  Add  to  this  that,  according  to  the  doctrine  of 
Chrysippus,  a  man  may  live  at  leisure :  I  do  not  say  that 
he  ought  to  endure  leisure,  but  that  he  ought  to  choose  it. 
Our  Stoics  say  that  the  wise  man  would  not  take  part  in 
the  government   of   any  state.     What   difference   does    it 


CH.  VIII.]  OF    LEISURE.  249 

make  by  what  path  the  wise  man  arrives  at  leisure,  whether 
it  be  because  the  state  is  wanting  to  him,  or  he  is  wanting 
to  the  state  ?  If  the  state  is  to  be  wanting  to  all  wise 
men  (and  it  always  will  be  found  wanting  by  refined 
thinkers),  I  ask  you,  to  what  state  should  the  wise  man 
betake  himself  ;  to  that  of  the  Athenians,  in  which  Socrates 
is  condemned  to  death,  and  from  which  Aristotle  goes  into 
exile  lest  he  should  be  condemned  to  death  ?  where  virtues 
are  borne  down  by  jealousy  ?  You  will  tell  me  that  no 
wise  man  would  join  such  a  state.  Shall  then  the  wise 
man  go  to  the  commonwealth  of  the  Carthaginians,  where 
faction  never  ceases  to  rage,  and  liberty  is  the  foe  of  all 
the  best  men,  where  justice  and  goodness  are  held  of  no 
account,  where  enemies  are  treated  with  inhuman  cruelty 
and  natives  are  treated  like  enemies  :  he  will  flee  from  this 
state  also.  If  I  were  to  discuss  each  one  separately,  I 
should  not  be  able  to  find  one  which  the  wise  man  could 
endure,  or  which  could  endure  the  wise  man.  N^ow  if  such 
a  state  as  we  have  dreamed  of  cannot  be  found  on  earth, 
it  follows  that  leisure  is  necessary  for  every  one,  because 
the  one  thing  which  might  be  preferred  to  leisure  is  nowhere 
to  be  found.  If  any  one  says  that  to  sail  is  the  best  of  things, 
and  then  says  that  we  ought  not  to  sail  in  a  sea  in  which 
shipwrecks  were  common  occurrences,  and  where  sudden 
storms  often  arise  which  drive  the  pilot  back  from  his 
course,  I  should  imagine  that  this  man,  while  speaking  in 
praise  of  sailing,  was  really  forbidding  me  to  unmoor  my 
ship 


250 


THE    NINTH    BOOK    OF    THE     DIALOGUES 

OF    L.    ANN^US    SENECA, 

ADDRESSED   TO   SERENUS. 

OP    PEACE     OF    MIND. 

I.   \_8ere7ms.^ 

\1  THEN  I  examine  myself,  Seneca,  some  vices  appear 
^  ^  on  the  snrface,  and  so  that  I  can  lay  my  hands 
upon  them,  while  others  are  less  distinct  and  harder  to 
reach,  and  some  are  not  always  present,  but  recur  at  in- 
tervals :  and  these  I  should  call  the  most  troublesome, 
being  like  a  roving  enemy  that  assails  one  when  he  sees 
his  opportunity,  and  who  will  neither  let  one  stand  on  one's 
guard  as  in  war,  nor  yet  take  one's  rest  without  fear  as  in 
peace.  The  position  in  which  I  find  myself  more  especially 
(for  why  should  I  not  tell  you  the  truth  as  I  would  to  a 
physician),  is  that  of  neither  being  thoroughly  set  free 
from  the  vices  which  I  fear  and  hate,  nor  yet  quite  in 
bondage  to  them  :  my  state  of  mind,  though  not  the  worst 
possible,  is  a  particularly  discontented  and  sulky  one :  I  am 
neither  ill  nor  well.  It  is  of  no  use  for  you  to  tell  me  that 
all  virtues  are  weakly  at  the  outset,  and  that  they  acquire 
strength  and  solidity  by  time,  for  I  am  well  aware  that 
even  those  which  do  but  help  our  outward  show,  such  as 
grandeur,  a  reputation  for  eloquence,  and  everything  that 
appeals  to  others,  gain  power  by  time.     Both  those  which 


CH.  I.]  OF    PEACE    OF    MIND.  251 

afford  us  real  strength  and  those  which  do  but  trick  us  out 
in  a  more  attractive  form,  require  long  years  before  they 
gradually  are  adapted  to  us  by  time.  But  I  fear  that 
custom,  which  confirms  most  things,  implants  this  vice 
more  and  more  deeply  in  me.  Long  acquaintance  with 
both  good  and  bad  people  leads  one  to  esteem  them  all  alike. 
What  this  state  of  weakness  really  is,  when  the  mind  halts 
between  two  opinions  without  any  strong  inclination 
towards  either  good  or  evil,  I  shall  be  better  able  to  show 
you  piecemeal  than  all  at  once.  I  will  tell  you  what  befalls 
me,  you  must  find  out  the  name  of  the  disease.  I  have  to 
confess  the  greatest  possible  love  of  thrift :  I  do  not  care 
for  a  bed  with  gorgeous  hangings,  nor  for  clothes  brought 
out  of  a  chest,  or  pressed  under  weights  and  made  glossy 
by  frequent  manglings,  but  for  common  and  cheap  ones, 
that  require  no  care  either  to  keep  them  or  to  put  them  on. 
For  food  I  do  not  want  what  needs  whole  troops  of  servants 
to  prepare  it  and  admire  it,  nor  what  is  ordered  many  days 
before  and  served  up  by  many  hands,  but  something  handy 
and  easily  come  at,  with  nothing  far-fetched  or  costly  about 
it,  to  be  had  in  every  part  of  the  world,  burdensome  neither 
to  one's  fortune  nor  one's  body,  not  likely  to  go  out  of  the 
body  by  the  same  path  by  which  it  came  in.  I  like  ^  a 
rough  and  unpolished  homebred  servant,  I  like  my  servant 
born  in  my  house :  I  like  my  country-bred  father's  heavy 
silver  plate  stamped  with  no  maker's  name  :  I  do  not  want 
a  table  that  is  beauteous  with  dappled  spots,  or  known  to 
all  the  town  by  the  number  of  fashionable  people  to  whom 
it  has  successively  belonged,  but  one  which  stands  merely 
for  use,  and  which  causes  no  guest's  eye  to  dwell  upon  it 
with  pleasure  or  to  kindle  at  it  with  envy.  While  I  am 
well  satisfied  with  this,  I  am  reminded  of  the  clothes  of  a 
certain  schoolboy,  dressed  with  no  ordinary  care  and 
splendour,  of  slaves  bedecked  with  gold  and  a  whole  regi- 
1  Cf.  Juv.  ii.  150. 


252  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

ment  of  glittering  attendants.  I  think  of  houses  too,  where 
one  treads  on  precious  stones,  and  where  valuables  lie  about 
in  every  corner,  where  the  very  roof  is  brilliantly  painted, 
and  a  whole  nation  attends  and  accompanies  an  inheri- 
tance on  the  road  to  ruin.  What  shall  I  say  of  waters, 
transparent  to  the  very  bottom,  which  flow  round  the  guests, 
and  banquets  worthy  of  the  theatre  in  which  they  take 
place  ?  Coming  as  I  do  from  a  long  course  of  dull  thrift, 
I  find  myself  surrounded  by  the  most  brilliant  luxury,  which 
echoes  around  me  on  every  side :  my  sight  becomes  a  little 
dazzled  by  it :  I  can  lift  up  my  heart  against  it  more  easily 
than  my  eyes.  When  I  return  from  seeing  it  I  am  a  sadder, 
though  not  a  worse  man,  I  cannot  walk  amid  my  own 
paltry  possessions  with  so  lofty  a  step  as  before,  and  silently 
there  steals  over  me  a  feeling  of  vexation,  and  a  doubt 
whether  that  way  of  life  may  not  be  better  than  mine. 
None  of  these  things  alter  my  principles,  yet  all  of  them 
disturb  me.  At  one  time  I  would  obey  the  maxims  of  our 
school  and  plunge  into  public  life,  I  would  obtain  office 
and  become  consul,  not  because  the  purple  robe  and  lictor's 
axes  attract  me,  but  in  order  that  I  may  be  able  to  be  of 
use  to  my  friends,  my  relatives,  to  all  my  countrymen,  and 
indeed  to  all  mankind.  Ready  and  determined,  I  follow 
the  advice  of  Zeno,  Cleanthes,  and  Chrysippus,  all  of  whom 
bid  one  take  part  in  public  affairs,  though  none  of  them 
ever  did  so  himself:  and  then,  as  soon  as  something  disturbs 
my  mind,  which  is  not  used  to  receiving  shocks,  as  soon  as 
something  occurs  which  is  either  disgraceful,  such  as  often 
occurs  in  all  men's  lives,  or  which  does  not  proceed  quite 
easily,  or  when  subjects  of  very  little  importance  require 
me  to  devote  a  great  deal  of  time  to  them,  I  go  back  to  my 
life  of  leisure,  and,  just  as  even  tired  cattle  go  faster  when 
they  are  going  home,  I  wish  to  retire  and  pass  my  life 
within  the  walls  of  my  house.  "No  one,"  I  say,  "that 
will  give  me  no  compensation  worth  such  a  loss  shall  ever 


CH.  I.]  OF  PEACE    OF  MIND.  2t53 

rob  me  of  a  day.  Let  my  mind  be  contained  within  itself 
and  improve  itself:  let  it  take  no  part  with  other  men's 
affairs,  and  do  nothing  which  depends  on  the  approval  of 
others :  let  me  enjoy  a  tranquillity  undisturbed  by  either 
public  or  private  troubles."  But  whenever  my  spirit  is 
roused  by  reading  some  brave  words,  or  some  noble  example 
spurs  me  into  action,  I  want  to  rush  into  the  law  courts,  to 
place  my  voice  at  one  man's  disposal,  my  services  at 
another's,  and  to  try  to  help  him  even  though  I  may  not 
succeed,  or  to  quell  the  pride  of  some  lawyer  who  is 
puffed  up  by  ill-deserved  success :  but  I  think,  by  Hercules, 
that  in  philosophical  speculation  it  is  better  to  view  things 
as  they  are,  and  to  speak  of  them  on  their  own  account, 
and  as  for  words,  to  trust  to  things  for  them,  and  to  let 
one's  speech  simply  follow  whither  they  lead.  "  Why  do 
you  want  to  construct  a  fabric  that  will  endure  for  ages  ? 
Do  you  not  wish  to  do  this  in  order  that  posterity  may  talk 
of  you  :  yet  you  were  born  to  die,  and  a  silent  death  is  the 
least  wretched.  Write  something  therefore  in  a  simple 
style,  merely  to  pass  the  time,  for  your  own  use,  and  not 
for  publication.  Less  labour  is  needed  when  one  does  not 
look  beyond  the  present."  Then  again,  when  the  mind  is 
elevated  by  the  greatness  of  its  thoughts,  it  becomes  osten- 
tatious in  its  use  of  words,  the  loftier  its  aspirations,  the 
more  loftily  it  desires  to  express  them,  and  its  speech  rises 
to  the  dignity  of  its  subject.  At  such  times  I  forget  my 
mild  and  moderate  determination  and  soar  higher  than  is 
my  wont,  using  a  language  that  is  not  my  own.  Not  to 
multiply  examples,  I  am  in  all  things  attended  by  this 
weakness  of  a  well-meaning  mind,  to  whose  level  I  fear  that 
I  shall  be  gradually  brought  down,  or,  what  is  even  more 
worrying,  that  I  may  always  hang  as  though  about  to  fall, 
and  that  there  may  be  more  the  matter  with  me  than  I 
myself  perceive :  for  we  take  a  friendly  view  of  our  own 
private  affairs,  and  partiality  always  obscures  our  judgment. 


254  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

I  fancy  that  many  men  would  have  arrived  at  wisdom  had 
they  not  believed  themselves  to  have  arrived  there  already, 
had  they  not  purposely  deceived  themselves  as  to  some 
parts  of  their  character,  and  passed  by  others  with  their 
eyes  shut :  for  you  have  no  grounds  for  supposing  that 
other  people's  flattery  is  more  ruinous  to  us  than  our  own. 
Who  dares  to  tell  himself  the  truth  ?  Who  is  there,  by 
however  large  a  troop  of  caressing  courtiers  he  may  be 
surrounded,  who  in  spite  of  them  is  not  his  own  greatest 
flatterer  ?  I  beg  you,  therefore,  if  you  have  any  remedy 
by  which  you  could  stop  this  vacillation  of  mine,  to  deem 
me  worthy  to  owe  my  peace  of  mind  to  you.  I  am  well 
aware  that  these  oscillations  of  mind  are  not  perilous  and 
that  they  threaten  me  with  no  serious  disorder  :  to  express 
what  I  complain  of  by  an  exact  simile,  I  am  not  suffering 
from  a  storm,  but  from  sea-sickness.  Take  from  me,  then, 
this  evil,  whatever  it  may  be,  and  help  one  who  is  in  distress 
within  sight  of  land. 

II.  \_Seneca.']  I  have  long  been  silently  asking  myself, 
my  friend  Serenus,  to  what  I  should  liken  such  a  condition 
of  mind,  and  I  find  that  nothing  more  closely  resembles  it 
than  the  conduct  of  those  who,  after  having  recovered  from 
a  long  and  serious  illness,  occasionally  experience  slight 
touches  and  twinges,  and,  although  they  have  passed 
through  the  final  stages  of  the  disease,  yet  have  suspicions 
that  it  has  not  left  them,  and  though  in  perfect  health  yet 
hold  out  their  pulse  to  be  felt  by  the  physician,  and  when- 
ever they  feel  warm  suspect  that  the  fever  is  returning. 
Such  men,  Serenus,  are  not  unhealthy,  but  they  are  not 
accustomed  to  being  healthy ;  just  as  even  a  quiet  sea 
or  lake  nevertheless  displays  a  certain  amount  of  ripple 
when  its  waters  are  subsiding  after  a  storm.  What  you 
need,  therefore,  is,  not  any  of  those  harsher  remedies  to 
which  allusion  has  been  made,  not  that  you  should  in  some 
cases  check  yourself,  in  others  be  angry  with  yourself,  in 


CH.  II.]  OF   PEACE    OF   MIND.  255 

others  sternly  reproacli  yoarself ,  but  that  you  should  adopt 
that  which  comes  last  in  the  list,  have  confidence  in  your- 
self, and  believe  that  you  are  proceeding  on  the  right  path, 
without  being  led  aside  by  the  numerous  divergent  tracks 
of  wanderers  which  cross  it  in  every  direction,  some  of  them 
circling  about  the  right  path  itself.  What  you  desire,  to 
be  undisturbed,  is  a  great  thing,  nay,  the  greatest  thing  of 
all,  and  one  which  raises  a  man  almost  to  the  level  of  a 
god.  The  Greeks  call  this  calm  steadiness  of  mind 
euthymia,  and  Democritus's  treatise  upon  it  is  excel- 
lently written :  I  call  it  peace  of  mind :  for  there  is  no 
necessity  for  translating  so  exactly  as  to  copy  the  words  of 
the  Grreek  idiom  :  the  essential  point  is  to  mark  the  matter 
under  discussion  by  a  name  which  ought  to  have  the  same 
meaning  as  its  Greek  name,  though  perhaps  not  the  same 
form.  What  we  are  seeking,  then,  is  how  the  mind  may 
always  pursue  a  steady,  unruffled  course,  may  be  pleased 
with  itself,  and  look  with  pleasure  upon  its  surroundings, 
and  experience  no  interruption  of  this  joy,  but  abide  in  a 
peaceful  condition  without  being  ever  either  elated  or 
depressed:  this  will  be  "peace  of  mind."  Let  us  now 
consider  in  a  general  way  how  it  may  be  attained :  then 
you  may  apply  as  much  as  you  choose  of  the  universal 
remedy  to  your  own  case.  Meanwhile  we  must  drag  to 
light  the  entire  disease,  and  then  each  one  will  recognize 
his  own  part  of  it :  at  the  same  time  you  will  understand 
how  much  less  you  suffer  by  your  self- depreciation  than 
those  who  are  bound  by  some  showy  declaration  which 
they  have  made,  and  are  oppressed  by  some  grand  title  of 
honour,  so  that  shame  rather  than  their  own  free  will  forces 
them  to  keep  up  the  pretence.  The  same  thing  applies 
both  to  those  who  suffer  from  fickleness  and  continual 
changes  of  purpose,  who  always  are  fondest  of  what  they 
have  given  up,  and  those  who  merely  yawn  and  dawdle : 
add  to  these  those  who,  like  bad  sleepers,  turn  from  side  to 


m 


256  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

side,  and  settle  themselves  first  in  one  manner  and  then  in 
another,  nntil  at  last  they  find  rest  through  sheer  weari- 
ness :  in  forming  the  habits  of  their  lives  they  often  end  by 
adopting  some  to  which  they  are  not  kept  by  any  dislike 
of  change,  but  in  the  practice  of  which  old  age,  which  is 
slow  to  alter,  has  caught  them  living :  add  also  those  who 
are  by  no  means  fickle,  yet  who  must  thank  their  dulness, 
not  their  consistency  for  being  so,  and  who  go  on  living  not 
in  the  way  they  wish,  but  in  the  way  they  have  begun  to 
live.  There  are  other  special  forms  of  this  disease  without 
number,  but  it  has  but  one  effect,  that  of  making  people 
dissatisfied  with  themselves.  This  arises  from  a  distem- 
perature  of  mind  and  from  desires  which  one  is  afraid  to 
express  or  unable  to  fulfil,  when  men  either  dare  not 
attempt  as  much  as  they  wish  to  do,  or  fail  in  their  efforts 
and  depend  entirely  upon  hope :  such  people  are  always 
fickle  and  changeable,  which  is  a  necessary  consequence  of 
living  in  a  state  of  suspense  :  they  take  any  way  to  arrive 
at  their  ends,  and  teach  and  force  themselves  to  use  both 
dishonourable  and  difficult  means  to  do  so,  so  that  when 
their  toil  has  been  in  vain  they  are  made  wretched  by  the 
disgrace  of  failure,  and  do  not  regret  having  longed  for 
what  was  wrong,  but  having  longed  for  it  in  vain.  They 
then  begin  to  feel  sorry  for  what  they  have  done,  and  afraid 
to  begin  again,  and  their  mind  falls  by  degrees  into  a  state 
of  endless  vacillation,  because  they  can  neither  command  nor 
obey  their  passions,  of  hesitation,  because  their  life  cannot 
properly  develope  itself,  and  of  decay,  as  the  mind  becomes 
stupefied  by  disappointments.  All  these  symptoms  become 
aggravated  when  their  dislike  of  a  laborious  misery  has 
driven  them  to  idleness  and  to  secret  studies,  which  are  un- 
endurable to  a  mind  eager  to  take  part  in  public  affairs, 
desirous  of  action  and  naturally  restless,  because,  of  course, 
it  finds  too  few  resources  within  itself :  when  therefore  it 
loses  the  amusement  which  business  itself  affords  to  busy 


CH.  II.]  OP  PEACE   OF  MIND.  267 

men,  it  cannot  endure  home,  loneliness,  or  the  walls  of  a 
room,  and  regards  itself  with  dislike  when  left  to  itself. 
Hence  arises  that  weariness  and  dissatisfaction  with  one- 
self, that  tossing  to  and  fro  of  a  mind  which  can  nowhere 
find  rest,  that  nnhappy  and  unwilling  endurance  of  en- 
forced leisure.  In  all  cases  where  one  feels  ashamed  to 
confess  the  real  cause  of  one's  sufPering,  and  where  modesty- 
leads  one  to  drive  one's  sufferings  inward,  the  desires  pent 
up  in  a  little  space  without  any  vent  choke  one  another. 
Hence  comes  melancholy  and  drooping  of  spirit,  and  a 
thousand  waverings  of  the  unsteadfast  mind,  which  is  held 
in  suspense  by  unfulfilled  hopes,  and  saddened  by  disap- 
pointed ones  :  hence  comes  the  state  of  mind  of  those  who 
loathe  their  idleness,  complain  that  they  have  nothing  to 
do,  and  view  the  progress  of  others  with  the  bitterest 
jealousy  :  for  an  unhappy  sloth  favours  the  growth  of  envy, 
and  men  who  cannot  succeed  themselves  wish  every  one 
else  to  be  ruined.  This  dislike  of  other  men's  progress  and 
despair  of  one's  own  produces  a  mind  angered  against  for- 
tune, addicted  to  complaining  of  the  age  in  which  it  lives, 
to  retiring  into  corners  and  brooding  over  its  misery,  until 
it  becomes  sick  and  weary  of  itself  :  for  the  human  mind  is 
naturally  nimble  and  apt  at  movement :  it  delights  in  every 
opportunity  of  excitement  and  forgetfulness  of  itself,  and 
the  worse  a  man's  disposition  the  more  he  delights  in  this, 
because  he  likes  to  wear  himself  out  with  busy  action,  just 
as  some  sores  long  for  the  hands  that  injure  them  and 
delight  in  being  touched,  and  the  foul  itch  enjoys  anything 
that  scratches  it.  Similarly  I  assure  you  that  these  minds, 
over  which  desires  have  spread  like  evil  ulcers,  take  plea- 
sure in  toils  and  troubles,  for  there  are  some  things  which 
please  our  body  while  at  the  same  time  they  give  it  a 
certain  amount  of  pain,  such  as  turning  oneself  over  and 
changing  one's  side  before  it  is  wearied,  or  cooling  oneself 
in  one  position  after  another.     It  is  like  Homer's  Achilles, 

s 


258  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

lying  first  upon  its  face,  then  npon  its  back,  placing  itself 
in  various  attitudes,  and,  as  sick  people  are  wont,  enduring 
none  of  them  for  long,  and  using  changes  as  though  they 
were  remedies.  Hence  men  undertake  aimless  wanderings, 
travel  along  distant  shores,  and  at  one  time  at  sea,  at 
another  by  land,  try  to  soothe  that  fickleness  of  disposition 
which  always  is  dissatisfied  with  the  present.  "  Now  let 
us  make  for  Campania :  now  I  am  sick  of  rich  cultivation  : 
let  us  see  wild  regions,  let  us  thread  the  passes  of  Bruttii 
and  Lucania :  yet  amid  this  wilderness  one  wants  some- 
thing of  beauty  to  relieve  our  pampered  eyes  after  so  long 
dwelling  on  savage  wastes :  let  us  seek  Tarentum  with  its 
famous  harbour,  its  mild  winter  climate,  and  its  district, 
rich  enough  to  support  even  the  great  hordes  of  ancient 
times.  Let  us  now  return  to  town :  our  ears  have  too  long 
missed  its  shouts  and  noise :  it  would  be  pleasant  also  to 
enjoy  the  sight  of  human  bloodshed."  Thus  one  journey 
succeeds  another,  and  one  sight  is  changed  for  another. 
As  Lucretius  says  : — 

"  Thus  ever}'  mortal  from  himself  doth  flee  ; " 

but  what  does  he  gain  by  so  doing  if  he  does  not  escape 
from  himself?  he  follows  himself  and  weighs  himself  down 
by  his  own  most  burdensome  companionship.  We  must 
understand,  therefore,  that  what  we  suffer  from  is  not  the 
fault  of  the  places  but  of  ourselves  :  we  are  weak  when 
there  is  anything  to  be  endured,  and  cannot  support  either 
labour  or  pleasure,  either  one's  own  business  or  any  one 
else's  for  long.  This  has  driven  some  men  to  death,  because 
by  frequently  altering  their  purpose  they  were  always 
brought  back  to  the  same  point,  and  had  left  themselves 
no  room  for  anything  new.  They  had  become  sick  of  life 
and  of  the  world  itself,  and  as  all  indulgences  palled  upon 
them  they  began  to  ask  themselves  the  question,  "  How 
long  are  we  to  go  on  doing  the  same  thing?  " 


CH.  III.]  OF  PEACE    OF  MIND.  259 

III.  You  ask  me  what  I  think  we  had  better  make  use 
of  to  help  us  to  support  this  ennui.  "  The  best  thing,"  as 
Athenodorus  says,  "is  to  occupy  oneself  with  business, 
with  the  management  of  affairs  of  state  and  the  duties  of  a 
citizen  :  for  as  some  pass  the  day  in  exercising  themselves 
in  the  sun  and  in  taking  care  of  their  bodily  health,  and 
athletes  find  it  most  useful  to  spend  the  greater  part  of 
their  time  in  feeding  up  the  muscles  and  strength  to  whose 
cultivation  they  have  devoted  their  lives  ;  so  too  for  you 
who  are  training  your  mind  to  take  part  in  the  struggles  of 
political  life,  it  is  far  more  honourable  to  be  thus  at  work 
than  to  be  idle.  He  whose  object  is  to  be  of  service  to  his 
countrymen  and  to  all  mortals,  exercises  himself  and  does 
good  at  the  same  time  when  he  is  engrossed  in  business 
and  is  working  to  the  best  of  his  ability  both  in  the  interests 
of  the  public  and  of  private  men.  But,"  continues  he, 
"  because  innocence  is  hardly  safe  among  such  furious 
ambitions  and  so  many  men  who  turn  one  aside  from  the 
right  path,  and  it  is  always  sure  to  meet  with  more 
hindrance  than  help,  we  ought  to  withdraw  ourselves  from 
the  forum  and  from  public  life,  and  a  great  mind  even  in 
a  private  station  can  find  room  wherein  to  expand  freely. 
Confinement  in  dens  restrains  the  springs  of  lions  and  wild 
creatures,  but  this  does  not  apply  to  human  beings,  who 
often  effect  the  most  important  works  in  retirement.  Let 
a  man,  however,  withdraw  himself  only  in  such  a  fashion 
that  wherever  he  spends  his  leisure  his  wish  may  still  be  to 
benefit  individual  men  and  mankind  alike,  both  with  his 
intellect,  his  voice,  and  his  advice.  The  man  that  does 
good  service  to  the  state  is  not  only  he  who  brings  forward 
candidates  for  public  office,  defends  accused  persons,  and 
gives  his  vote  on  questions  of  peace  and  war,  but  he  who  en- 
courages young  men  in  well-doing,  who  supplies  the  present 
dearth  of  good  teachers  by  instilling  into  their  minds  the 
principles  of  virtue,  who  seizes  and  holds  back  those  who 


260  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

are  rushing  wildly  in  pursuit  of  riches  and  luxury,  and,  if  he 
does  nothing  else,  at  least  checks  their  course — such  a  man 
does  service  to  the  public  though  in  a  private  station.  Which 
does  the  most  good,  he  who  decides  between  foreigners  and 
citizens  (as  praetor  peregrinus),  or,  as  praetor  urbanus,  pro- 
nounces sentence  to  the  suitors  in  his  court  at  his  assistant's 
dictation,  or  he  who  shows  them  what  is  meant  by  justice, 
filial  feeling,  endurance,  courage,  contempt  of  death  and 
knowledge  of  the  gods,  and  how  much  a  man  is  helped  by  a 
good  conscience  ?  If  then  you  transfer  to  philosophy  the 
time  which  you  take  away  from  the  public  service,  you 
will  not  be  a  deserter  or  have  refused  to  perform  your 
proper  task.  A  soldier  is  not  merely  one  who  stands  in 
the  ranks  and  defends  the  right  or  the  left  wing  of  the 
army,  but  he  also  who  guards  the  gates — a  service  which, 
though  less  dangerous,  is  no  sinecure — who  keeps  watch, 
and  takes  charge  of  the  arsenal :  though  all  these  are 
bloodless  duties,  yet  they  count  as  military  service.  As 
soon  as  you  have  devoted  yourself  to  philosophy,  you  will 
have  overcome  all  disgust  at  life :  you  will  not  wish  for 
darkness  because  you  are  weary  of  the  light,  nor  will  you 
be  a  trouble  to  yourself  and  useless  to  others :  you  will 
acquire  many  friends,  and  all  the  best  men  will  be  attracted 
towards  you  :  for  virtue,  in  however  obscure  a  position, 
cannot  be  hidden,  but  gives  signs  of  its  presence  :  any  one 
who  is  worthy  will  trace  it  out  by  its  footsteps  :  but  if  we 
give  up  all  society,  turn  our  backs  upon  the  whole  human 
race,  and  live  communing  with  ourselves  alone,  this  soli- 
tude without  any  interesting  occupation  will  lead  to  a  want 
of  something  to  do :  we  shall  begin  to  build  up  and  to 
pull  down,  to  dam  out  the  sea,  to  cause  waters  to  flow 
through  natural  obstacles,  and  generally  to  make  a  bad 
disposal  of  the  time  which  Nature  has  given  us  to  spend  : 
some  of  us  use  it  grudgingly,  others  wastefully ;  some  of  us 
spend  ifc  so  that  we  can  show  a  profit  and  loss  account. 


CH.  rv.]  OF   PEACE   OF   MIND.  261 

others  so  that  they  have  no  assets  remaining  :  than  which 
nothing  can  be  more  shameful.  Often  a  man  who  is  very 
old  in  years  has  nothing  beyond  his  age  by  which  he  can 
prove  that  he  has  lived  a  long  time." 

lY.  To  me,  my  dearest  Serenas,  Athenodorus  seems  to 
have  yielded  too  completely  to  the  times,  to  have  fled  too 
soon  :  I  will  not  deny  that  sometimes  one  must  retire,  but 
one  ought  to  retire  slowly,  at  a  foot's  pace,  without  losing 
one's  ensigns  or  one's  honour  as  a  soldier :  those  who  make 
terms  with  arms  in  their  hands  are  more  respected  by  their 
enemies  and  more  safe  in  their  hands.  This  is  what  I 
think  ought  to  be  done  by  virtue  and  by  one  who  practises 
virtue  :  if  Fortune  get  the  upper  hand  and  deprive  him  of 
the  power  of  action,  let  him  not  straightway  turn  his  back 
to  the  enemy,  throw  away  his  arms,  and  run  away  seeking 
for  a  hiding-place,  as  if  there  were  any  place  whither 
Fortune  could  not  pursue  him,  but  let  him  be  more  sparing 
in  his  acceptance  of  public  oflice,  and  after  due  deliberation 
discover  some  means  by  which  he  can  be  of  use  to  the 
state.  He  is  not  able  to  serve  in  the  army  :  then  let  him 
become  a  candidate  for  civic  honours :  must  he  live  in  a 
private  station  ?  then  let  him  be  an  advocate :  is  he  con- 
demned to  keep  silence?  then  let  him  help  his  countrymen 
■with  silent  counsel.  Is  it  dangerous  for  him  even  to  enter 
tlie  forum  ?  then  let  him  prove  himself  a  good  comrade,  a 
faithful  friend,  a  sober  guest  in  people's  houses,  at  public 
shows,  and  at  wine-parties.  Suppose  that  he  has  lost  the 
status  of  a  citizen  ;  then  let  him  exercise  that  of  a  man  : 
our  reason  for  magnanimously  refusing  to  confine  ourselves 
within  the  walls  of  one  city,  for  having  gone  forth  to  enjoy 
intercourse  with  all  lands  and  for  professing  ourselves  to 
be  citizens  of  the  world  is  that  we  may  thus  obtain  a  wider 
theatre  on  which  to  display  our  virtue.  Is  the  bench  of 
judges  closed  to  you,  are  you  forbidden  to  address  the 
people  from  the  hustings,  or  to  be  a  candidate  at  elections  ? 


262  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

then  turn  your  eyes  away  from  Rome,  and  see  what  a  wide 
extent  of  territory,  what  a  number  of  nations  present 
themselves  before  you.  Thus,  it  is  never  possible  for  so 
many  outlets  to  be  closed  against  your  ambition  that  more 
will  not  remain  open  to  it  :  but  see  whether  the  whole 
prohibition  does  not  arise  from  your  own  fault.  You  do 
not  choose  to  direct  the  affairs  of  the  state  except  as  consul 
or  prytanis  ^  or  meddix  ^  or  sufes  :  ^  what  should  we  say  if 
you  refused  to  serve  in  the  army  save  as  general  or  mili- 
tary tribune  ?  Even  though  others  may  form  the  first 
line,  and  your  lot  may  have  placed  you  among  the  veterans 
of  the  third,  do  your  duty  there  with  your  voice,  encourage- 
ment, example,  and  spirit :  even  though  a  man's  hands  be 
cut  off,  he  may  find  means  to  help  his  side  in  a  battle,  if 
he  stands  his  ground  and  cheers  on  his  comrades.  Do 
something  of  that  sort  yourself  :  if  Fortune  removes  you 
from  the  front  rank,  stand  your  ground  nevertheless  and 
cheer  on  your  comrades,  and  if  somebody  stops  your  mouth, 
stand  nevertheless  and  help  your  side  in  silence.  The 
services  of  a  good  citizen  are  never  thrown  away  :  he  does 
good  by  being  heard  and  seen,  by  his  expression,  his 
gestures,  his  silent  determination,  and  his  very  walk.  As 
some  remedies  benefit  us  by  their  smell  as  well  as  by  their 
their  taste  and  touch,  so  virtue  even  when  concealed  and 
at  a  distance  sheds  usefulness  around.  Whether  she  moves 
at  her  ease  and  enjoys  her  just  rights,  or  can  only  appear 
abroad  on  sufferance  and  is  forced  to  shorten  sail  to  the 
tempest,  whether  it  be  unemployed,  silent,  and  pent  up  in 
a  narrow  lodging,  or  openly  displayed,  in  whatever  guise 
she  may  appear,  she  always  does  good.  What  ?  do  you 
think  that  the  example  of  one  who  can  rest  nobly  has  no 
value  ?     It  is  by  far  the  best   plan,   therefore,  to   mingle 

^  The  chief  magistrate  of  the  Greeks. 
^  The  chief  magistrate  of  the  Oscans. 
^  The  chief  magistrate  of  the  Carthaginians. 


CH.  v.]  OF  PEACE  OF   MIND.  263 

leisure  with  business,  whenever  chance  impediments  or  the 
state  of  public  affairs  forbid  one's  leading  an  active  life  : 
for  one  is  never  so  cut  off  from  all  pursuits  as  to  find  no 
room  left  for  honourable  action. 

V.  Could  you  anywhere  find  a  miserable  city  than  that 
of  Athens  when  it  was  being  torn  to  pieces  by  the  thirty 
tyrants  ?  they  slew  thirteen  hundred  citizens,  all  the  best 
men,  and  did  not  leave  off  because  they  had  done  so,  but 
their  cruelty  became  stimulated  by  exercise.  In  the  city 
which  possessed  that  most  reverend  tribunal,  the  Court  of 
the  Areopagus,  which  possessed  a  Senate,  and  a  popular 
assembly  which  was  like  a  Senate,  there  met  daily  a 
wretched  crew  of  butchers,  and  the  unhappy  Senate  House 
was  crowded  with  tyrants.  A  state,  in  which  there  were 
so  many  tyrants  that  they  would  have  been  enough  to 
form  a  bodyguard  for  one,  might  surely  have  rested  from 
the  struggle ;  it  seemed  impossible  for  men's  minds  even 
to  conceive  hopes  of  recovering  their  liberty,  nor  could 
they  see  any  room  for  a  remedy  for  such  a  mass  of  evil : 
for  whence  could  the  unhappy  state  obtain  all  the  Har- 
modiuses  it  would  need  to  slay  so  many  tyrants  ?  Yet 
Socrates  was  in  the  midst  of  the  city,  and  consoled  its 
mourning  Fathers,  encouraged  those  who  despaired  of  the 
republic,  by  his  reproaches  brought  rich  men,  who  feared 
that  their  wealth  would  be  their  ruin,  to  a  tardy  repentance 
of  their  avarice,  and  moved  about  as  a  great  example  to 
those  who  wished  to  imitate  him,  because  he  walked  a 
free  man  in  the  midst  of  thirty  masters.  However,  Athens 
herself  put  him  to  death  in  prison,  and  Freedom  herseH 
could  not  endure  the  freedom  of  one  who  had  treated  a 
whole  band  of  tyrants  with  scorn :  you  may  know,  therefore, 
that  even  in  an  oppressed  state  a  wise  man  can  find  an 
opportunity  for  bringing  himself  to  the  front,  and  that  in  a 
prosperous  and  flourishing  one  wanton  insolence,  jealousy, 
and  a  thousand  other  cowardly  vices  bear  sway.    We  ought, 


264  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

therefore,  to  expand  or  contract  ourselves  according  as 
the  state  presents  itself  to  us,  or  as  Fortune  offers  us  oppor- 
tunities :  but  in  any  case  we  ought  to  move  and  not  to 
become  frozen  still  by  fear  :  nay,  he  is  the  best  man  who, 
though  peril  menaces  him  on  every  side  and  arms  and 
chains  beset  his  path,  nevertheless  neither  impairs  nor 
conceals  his  virtue  :  for  to  keep  oneself  safe  does  not  mean 
to  bury  oneself.  I  think  that  Curius  Dentatus  spoke  truly 
when  he  said  that  he  would  rather  be  dead  than  alive :  the 
worst  evil  of  all  is  to  leave  the  ranks  of  the  living  before 
one  dies  :  yet  it  is  your  duty,  if  you  happen  to  live  in  an 
age  when  it  is  not  easy  to  serve  the  state,  to  devote  more 
time  to  leisure  and  to  literature.  Thus,  Just  as  though 
you  were  making  a  perilous  voyage,  you  may  from  time 
to  time  put  into  harbour,  and  set  yourself  free  from  public 
business  without  waiting  for  it  to  do  so. 

YI.  We  ought,  however,  first  to  examine  our  own  selves, 
next  the  business  which  we  propose  to  transact,  next  those 
for  whose  sake  or  in  whose  company  we  transact  it. 

It  is  above  all  things  necessary  to  form  a  true  estimate 
of  oneself,  because  as  a  rule  we  think  that  we  can  do  more 
than  we  are  able  :  one  man  is  led  too  far  through  confidence 
in  his  eloquence,  another  demands  more  from  his  estate 
than  it  can  produce,  another  burdens  a  weakly  body  with 
some  toilsome  duty.  Some  men  are  too  shamefaced  for 
the  conduct  of  public  affairs,  which  require  an  unblushing 
front :  some  men's  obstinate  pride  renders  them  unfit  for 
courts  :  some  cannot  control  their  anger,  and  break  into 
unguarded  language  on  the  slightest  provocation  :  some 
cannot  rein  in  their  wit  or  resist  making  risky  jokes  :  for 
all  these  men  leisure  is  better  than  employment :  a  bold, 
haughty  and  impatient  nature  ought  to  avoid  anything 
that  may  lead  it  to  use  a  freedom  of  speech  which  will  bring 
it  to  ruin.  Next  we  must  form  an  estimate  of  the  matter 
which  we  mean  to   deal  with,  and  compare  our  strength 


CH.  VII.]  OF   PEACE   OF   MIND.  265 

with  the  deed  we  are  about  to  attempt:  for  the  bearer 
ought  always  to  be  more  powerful  than  his  load :  indeed, 
loads  which  are  too  heavy  for  their  bearer  must  of  necessity 
crush  him  :  some  affairs  also  are  not  so  important  in  them- 
selves as  they  are  prolific  and  lead  to  much  more  business, 
which  employments,  as  they  involve  us  in  new  and  various 
forms  of  work,  ought  to  be  refused.  Neither  should  you 
engage  in  anything  from  which  you  are  not  free  to  retreat  : 
apply  yourself  to  something  which  you  can  finish,  or  at 
any  rate  can  hope  to  finish  :  you  had  better  not  meddle  with 
those  operations  which  grow  in  importance,  while  they  are 
being  transacted,  and  which  will  not  stop  where  you  in- 
tended them  to  stop. 

VII.  In  all  cases  one  should  be  careful  in  one's  choice  of 
men,  and  see  whether  they  be  worthy  of  our  bestowing  a 
part  of  our  life  upon  them,  or  whether  we  shall  waste  our 
own  time  and  theirs  also  :  for  some  even  consider  us  to  be 
in  their  debt  because  of  our  services  to  them.  Athenodorus 
said  that  "  he  would  not  so  much  as  dine  with  a  man  who 
would  not  be  grateful  to  him  for  doing  so " :  meaning,  I 
imagine,  that  much  less  would  he  go  to  dinner  with  those 
who  recompense  the  services  of  their  friends  by  their  table, 
and  regard  courses  of  dishes  as  donatives,  as  if  they  over- 
ate themselves  to  do  honour  to  others.  Take  away  from 
these  men  their  witnesses  and  spectators  :  they  will  take 
no  pleasure  in  solitary  gluttony.  You  must  decide  whether 
your  disposition  is  better  suited  for  vigorous  action  or  for 
tranquil  speculation  and  contemplation,  and  you  must 
adopt  whichever  the  bent  of  your  genius  inclines  you  for. 
Isocrates  laid  hands  upon  Ephorus  and  led  him  away  from 
the  forum,  thinking  that  he  would  be  more  usefully  em- 
ployed in  compiling  chronicles ;  for  no  good  is  done  by 
forcing  one's  mind  to  engage  in  uncongenial  work  :  it  is 
vain  to  struggle  against  Nature.  Yet  nothing  delights  the 
mind  so  much  as  faithful  and  pleasant  friendship  :  what  a 


266  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

blessing  it  is  when  there  is  one  whose  breast  is  ready  to 
receive  all  your  secrets  with  safety,  whose  knowledge  of 
your  actions  you  fear  less  than  your  own  conscience,  whose 
conversation  removes  your  anxieties,  whose  advice  assists 
your  plans,  whose  cheerfulness  dispels  your  gloom,  whose 
very  sight  delights  you  !  We  should  choose  for  our  friends 
men  who  are,  as  far  as  possible,  free  from  strong  desires  : 
for  vices  are  contagious,  and  pass  from  a  man  to  his  neigh- 
bour, and  injure  those  who  touch  them.  As,  therefore,  in 
times  of  pestilence  we  have  to  be  careful  not  to  sit  near 
people  who  are  infected  and  in  whom  the  disease  is  raging, 
because  by  so  doing,  we  shall  run  into  danger  and  catch 
the  plague  from  their  very  breath ;  so,  too,  in  choosing  our 
friends'  dispositions,  we  must  take  care  to  select  those  who 
are  as  far  as  may  be  unspotted  by  the  world;  for  the  way 
to  breed  disease  is  to  mix  what  is  sound  with  what  is  rotten. 
Yet  I  do  not  advise  you  to  follow  after  or  draw  to  yourself 
no  one  except  a  wise  man :  for  where  will  you  find  him 
whom  for  so  many  centuries  we  have  sought  in  vain  ?  in 
the  place  of  the  best  possible  man  take  him  who  is  least 
bad.  You  would  hardly  find  any  time  that  would  have 
enabled  you  to  make  a  happier  choice  than  if  you  could 
have  sought  for  a  good  man  from  among  the  Platos  and 
Xenophons  and  the  rest  of  the  produce  of  the  brood  of 
Socrates,  or  if  yon  had  been  permitted  to  choose  one  from 
the  age  of  Cato  :  an  age  which  bore  many  men  worthy  to 
be  born  in  Cato's  time  (just  as  it  also  bore  many  men  worse 
than  were  ever  known  before,  planners  of  the  blackest 
crimes  :  for  it  needed  both  classes  in  order  to  make  Cato 
understood :  it  wanted  both  good  men,  that  he  might  win 
their  approbation,  and  bad  men,  against  whom  he  could 
prove  his  strength)  :  but  at  the  present  day,  when  there  is 
such  a  dearth  of  good  men,  you  must  be  less  squeamish  in 
your  choice.  Above  all,  however,  avoid  dismal  men  who 
grumble  at  whatever  happens,  and  find  something  to  com- 


CH.  VIII.]  OF   PEACE    OF  MIND.  267 

plain  of  in  everything.  Though  he  may  continue  loyal 
and  friendly  towards  yon,  still  one's  peace  of  mind  is 
destroyed  by  a  comrade  whose  mind  is  soured  and  who 
meets  every  incident  with  a  groan. 

VIII.  Let  us  now  pass  on  to  the  consideration  of  pro- 
perty, that  most  fertile  source  of  human  sorrows  :  for  if 
you  compare  all  the  other  ills  from  which  we  suffer — deaths, 
sicknesses,  fears,  regrets,  endurance  of  pains  and  labours — 
with  those  miseries  which  our  money  inflicts  upon  us,  the 
latter  will  far  outweigh  all  the  others.  Reflect,  then,  how 
much  less  a  grief  it  is  never  to  have  had  any  money  than 
to  have  lost  it:  we  shall  thus  understand  that  the  less  poverty 
has  to  lose,  the  less  torment  it  has  with  which  to  afflict 
us  :  for  you  are  mistaken  if  you  suppose  that  the  rich  bear 
their  losses  with  greater  spirit  than  the  poor :  a  wound  causes 
the  same  amount  of  pain  to  the  greatest  and  the  smallest 
body.  It  was  a  neat  saying  of  Bion's,  "that  it  hurts  bald  men 
as  much  as  hairy  men  to  have  their  hairs  pulled  out "  :  you 
may  be  assured  that  the  same  thing  is  true  of  rich  and 
poor  people,  that  their  suffering  is  equal :  for  their  money 
clings  to  both  classes,  and  cannot  be  torn  away  without 
their  feeling  it :  yet  it  is  more  endurable,  as  I  have  said, 
and  easier  not  to  gain  property  than  to  lose  it,  and  there- 
fore you  will  find  that  those  upon  whom  Fortune  has  never 
smiled  are  more  cheerful  than  those  whom  she  has  deserted. 
Diogenes,  a  man  of  infinite  spirit,  perceived  this,  and  made 
it  impossible  that  anything  should  be  taken  from  him. 
Call  this  security  from  loss  poverty,  want,  necessity,  or 
any  contemptuous  name  you  please  :  I  shall  consider  such 
a  man  to  be  happy,  unless  you  find  me  another  who  can 
lose  nothing.  If  I  am  not  mistaken,  it  is  a  royal  attribute 
among  so  many  misers,  sharpers,  and  robbers,  to  be  the 
one  man  who  cannot  be  injured.  If  any  one  doubts  the 
happiness  of  Diogenes,  he  would  doubt  whether  the  position 
of   the   immortal    gods  was   one  of   sufficient   happiness, 


268  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

because  thej  have  no  farms  or  gardens,  no  valuable  estates 
let  to  strange  tenants,  and  no  large  loans  in  the  money 
market.  Are  yon  not  ashamed  of  yourself,  you  who  gaze 
upon  riches  with  astonished  admiration  ?  Look  upon  the 
universe  :  you  will  see  the  gods  quite  bare  of  property,  and 
possessing  nothing  though  they  give  everything.  Do  you 
think  that  this  man  who  has  stripped  himself  of  all 
fortuitous  accessories  is  a  pauper,  or  one  like  to  the 
immortal  gods  ?  Do  you  call  Demetrius,  Pompeius's 
freedman,  a  happier  man,  he  who  was  not  ashamed  to  be 
richer  than  Pompeius,  who  was  daily  furnished  with  a  list 
of  the  number  of  his  slaves,  as  a  general  is  with  that  of  his 
army,  though  he  had  long  deserved  that  all  his  riches 
should  consist  of  a  pair  of  underlings,  and  a  roomier  cell 
than  the  other  slaves  ?  But  Diogenes's  only  slave  ran 
away  from  him,  and  when  he  was  pointed  out  to  Diogenes, 
he  did  not  think  him  worth  fetching  back.  "  It  is  a  shame," 
he  said,  "that  Manes  should  be  able  to  live  without 
Diogenes,  and  that  Diogenes  should  not  be  able  to  live 
without  Manes."  He  seems  to  me  to  have  said,  "  Fortune, 
mind  your  own  business  :  Diogenes  has  nothing  left  that 
belongs  to  you.  Did  my  slave  run  away  ?  nay,  he  went 
away  from  me  as  a  free  man."  A  household  of  slaves 
requires  food  and  clothing  :  the  bellies  of  so  many  hungry 
creatures  have  to  be  filled  :  we  must  buy  raiment  for  them, 
we  must  watch  their  most  thievish  hands,  and  we  must 
make  use  of  the  services  of  people  who  weep  and  execrate 
us.  How  far  happier  is  he  who  is  indebted  to  no  man  for 
anything  except  for  what  he  can  deprive  himself  of  with 
the  greatest  ease !  Since  we,  however,  have  not  such 
strength  of  mind  as  this,  we  ought  at  any  rate  to  diminish 
the  extent  of  our  property,  in  order  to  be  less  exposed  to 
the  assaults  of  fortune  :  those  men  whose  bodies  can  be 
within  the  shelter  of  their  armour,  are  more  fitted  for  war 
than  those   whose  huge  size  everywhere  extends  beyond 


CH.  IX.]  OF   PEACE   OF  MIND.  269 

it,  and  exposes  them  to  wounds  :  the  best  amount  of  pro- 
perty to  have  is  that  which  is  enough  to  keep  us  from 
poverty,  and  which  yet  is  not  far  removed  from  it. 

IX.  We  shall  be  pleased  with  this  measure  of  wealth  if 
we  have  previously  taken  pleasure  in  thrift,  without  which 
no  riches  are  sufficient,  and  with  which  none  are  insuffi- 
cient, especially  as  the  remedy  is  always  at  hand,  and 
poverty  itself  by  calling  in  the  aid  of  thrift  can  convert 
itself  into  riches.  Let  us  accustom  ourselves  to  set  aside 
mere  outward  show,  and  to  measure  things  by  their  uses, 
not  by  their  ornamental  trappings :  let  our  hunger  be 
tamed  by  food,  our  thirst  quenched  by  drinking,  our  lust 
confined  within  needful  bounds ;  let  us  learn  to  use  our 
limbs,  and  to  arrange  our  dress  and  way  of  life  according 
to  what  was  approved  of  by  our  ancestors,  not  in  imitation 
of  new-fangled  models  :  let  us  learn  to  increase  our  conti- 
nence, to  repress  luxury,  to  set  bounds  to  our  pride,  to 
assuage  our  anger,  to  look  upon  poverty  without  prejudice, 
to  practise  thrift,  albeit  many  are  ashamed  to  do  so,  to 
apply  cheap  remedies  to  the  wants  of  nature,  to  keep  all 
undisciplined  hopes  and  aspirations  as  it  were  under  lock 
and  key,  and  to  make  it  our  business  to  get  our  riches 
from  ourselves  and  not  from  Fortune.  "We  never  can  so 
thoroughly  defeat  the  vast  diversity  and  malignity  of  mis- 
fortune with  which  we  are  threatened  as  not  to  feel  the  weight 
of  many  gusts  if  we  offer  a  large  spread  of  canvas  to  the 
wind :  we  must  draw  our  affairs  into  a  small  compass,  to  make 
the  darts  of  Fortune  of  no  avail.  For  this  reason,  some- 
times slight  mishaps  have  turned  into  remedies,  and  more 
serious  disorders  have  been  healed  by  slighter  ones.  When 
the  mind  pays  no  attention  to  good  advice,  and  cannot  be 
brought  to  its  senses  by  milder  measures,  why  should  we 
not  think  that  its  interests  are  being  served  by  poverty, 
disgrace,  or  financial  ruin  being  applied  to  it  ?  one  evil  is 
balanced  by  another.  Let  us  then  teach  ourselves  to  be  able  to 


270  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

dine  without  all  Rome  to  look  on,  to  be  the  slaves  of  fewer 
slaves,  to  get  clothes  which  fulfil  their  original  purpose, 
and  to  live  in  a  smaller  house.  The  inner  curve  is  the 
one  to  take,  not  only  in  running  races  and  in  the  contests 
of  the  circus,  but  also  in  the  race  of  life ;  even  literary 
pursuits,  the  most  becoming  thing  for  a  gentleman  to 
spend  money  upon,  are  only  justifiable  as  long  as  they  are 
kept  within  bounds.  What  is  the  use  of  possessing  num- 
berless books  and  libraries,  whose  titles  their  owner  can 
hardly  read  through  in  a  lifetime  ?  A  student  is  over- 
whelmed by  such  a  mass,  not  instructed,  and  it  is  much 
better  to  devote  yourself  to  a  few  writers  than  to  skim 
through  many.  Forty  thousand  books  were  burned  at 
Alexandria:  some  would  have  praised  this  library  as  a 
most  noble  memorial  of  royal  wealth,  like  Titus  Livius, 
who  says  that  it  was  "  a  splendid  result  of  the  taste  and 
attentive  care  of  the  kings."  ^  It  had  nothing  to  do  with 
taste  or  care,  but  was  a  piece  of  learned  luxury,  nay,  not 
even  learned,  since  they  amassed  it,  not  for  the  sake  of 
learning,  but  to  make  a  show,  like  many  men  who  know 
less  about  letters  than  a  slave  is  expected  to  know,  and 
who  uses  his  books  not  to  help  him  in  his  studies  but  to 
ornament  his  dining-room.  Let  a  man,  then,  obtain  as 
many  books  as  he  wants,  but  none  for  show.  "It  is  more 
respectable,"  say  you,  "  to  spend  one's  money  on  such  books 
than  on  vases  of  Corinthian  brass  and  paintings."  Not  so  : 
everything  that  is  carried  to  excess  is  wrong.  What 
excuses  can  you  find  for  a  man  who  is  eager  to  buy  book- 
cases of  ivory  and  citrus  wood,  to  collect  the  works  of 
unknown  or  discredited  authors,  and   who   sits  yawning 

1  "  Livy  himself  styled  the  Alexandrian  library  elegantiae  regum 
curaeque  egregium  opus:  a  liberal  encomium,  for  which  he  is  pertly 
criticised  by  the  narrow  stoicism  of  Seneca  (Tranq.,  ch.  ix.),  whose 
wisdom,  on  this  occasion,  deviates  into  nonsense." — Gibbon,  "Decline 
and  Fall,"  ch.  li.,  note. 


CH.  X.]  OF   PEACE    OF    MIND.  271 

amid  so  many  thousands  of  books,  whose  backs  and  titles 
please  him  more  than  any  other  part  of  them  ?  Thus  in 
the  houses  of  the  laziest  of  men  you  will  see  the  works  of 
all  the  orators  and  historians  stacked  upon  book-shelves 
reaching  right  up  to  the  ceiling.  At  the  present  day  a 
library  has  become  as  necessary  an  appendage  to  a  house 
as  a  hot  and  cold  bath.  I  would  excuse  them  straightway 
if  they  really  were  carried  away  by  an  excessive  zeal  for 
literature  ;  but  as  it  is,  these  costly  works  of  sacred  genius, 
with  all  the  illustrations  that  adorn  them,  are  merely 
bought  for  display  and  to  serve  as  wall-furniture. 

X.  Suppose,  however,  that  your  life  has  become  full  of 
trouble,  and  that  without  knowing  what  you  were  doing 
you  have  fallen  into  some  snare  which  either  public  or  pri- 
vate Fortune  has  set  for  you,  and  that  you  can  neither 
untie  it  nor  break  it :  then  remember  that  fettered  men 
suffer  much  at  first  from  the  burdens  and  clogs  upon  their 
legs :  afterwards,  when  they  have  made  up  their  minds 
not  to  fret  themselves  about  them,  but  to  endure  them, 
necessity  teaches  them  to  bear  them  bravely,  and  habit  to 
bear  them  easily.  In  every  station  of  life  you  will  find 
amusements,  relaxations,  and  enjoyments ;  that  is,  pro- 
vided you  be  willing  to  make  light  of  evils  rather  than  to 
hate  them.  Knowing  to  what  sorrows  we  were  born, 
there  is  nothing  for  which  Nature  more  deserves  our 
thanks  than  for  having  invented  habit  as  an  alleviation  of 
misfortune,  which  soon  accustoms  us  to  the  severest  evils. 
No  one  could  hold  out  against  misfortune  if  it  permanently 
exercised  the  same  force  as  at  its  first  onset.  We  are  all 
chained  to  Fortune :  some  men's  chain  is  loose  and  made 
of  gold,  that  of  others  is  tight  and  of  meaner  metal :  but 
what  difference  does  this  make  ?  we  are  all  included  in  the 
same  captivity,  and  even  those  who  have  bound  us  are 
bound  themselves,  unless  you  think  that  a  chain  on  the  left 
side  is  lighter  to  bear :  one  man  may  be  bound  by  public 


272  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

office,  another  hy  wealth :  some  have  to  bear  the  weight  of 
illustrious,  some  of  humble  birth :  some  are  subject  to  the 
commands  of  others,  some  only  to  their  own :  some  are 
kept  in  one  place  by  being  banished  thither,  others  by 
being  elected  to  the  priesthood.  All  life  is  slavery :  let 
each  man  therefore  reconcile  himself  to  his  lot,  complain 
of  it  as  little  as  possible,  and  lay  hold  of  whatever  good 
lies  within  his  reach.  No  condition  can  be  so  wretched 
that  an  impartial  mind  can  find  no  compensations  in  it. 
Small  sites,  if  ingeniously  divided,  may  be  made  use  of  for 
many  different  purposes,  and  arrangement  will  render  ever 
so  narrow  a  room  habitable.  Call  good  sense  to  your  aid 
against  difficulties :  it  is  possible  to  soften  what  is  harsh, 
to  widen  what  is  too  narrow,  and  to  make  heavy  burdens 
press  less  severely  upon  one  who  bears  them  skilfully. 
Moreover,  we  ought  not  to  allow  our  desires  to  wander  far 
afield,  but  we  must  make  them  confine  themselves  to  our 
immediate  neighbourhood,  since  they  will  not  endure  to  be 
altogether  locked  up.  We  must  leave  alone  things  which 
either  cannot  come  to  pass  or  can  only  be  effected  with 
difficulty,  and  follow  after  such  things  as  are  near  at  hand 
and  within  reach  of  our  hopes,  always  remembering  that  all 
things  are  equally  unimportant,  and  that  though  they  have 
a  different  outward  appearance,  they  are  all  alike  empty 
within.  Neither  let  us  envy  those  who  are  in  high  places  : 
the  heights  which  look  lofty  to  us  are  steep  and  rugged. 
Again,  those  whom  unkind  fate  has  placed  in  critical 
situations  will  be  safer  if  they  show  as  little  pride  in  their 
proud  position  as  may  be,  and  do  all  they  are  able  to  bring 
down  their  fortunes  to  the  level  of  other  men's.  There 
are  many  who  must  needs  cling  to  their  high  pinnacle  of 
power,  because  they  cannot  descend  from  it  save  by  falling 
headlong  :  yet  they  assure  us  that  their  greatest  burden  is 
being  obliged  to  be  burdensome  to  others,  and  that  they 
are  nailed  to  their  lofty  post  rather  than  raised  to  it :  let 


CH.  XI.]  OP   PEACE   OF  MIND.  273 

them  then,  by  dispensing  justice,  clemency,  and  kindness 
Ysdth  an  open  and  liberal  hand,  provide  themselves  with 
assistance  to  break  their  fall,  and  looking  forward  to  this 
maintain  their  position  more  hopefully.  Yet  nothing  sets 
us  free  from  these  alternations  of  hope  and  fear  so  well  as 
always  fixing  some  limit  to  our  successes,  and  not  allowing 
Fortune  to  choose  when  to  stop  our  career,  but  to  halt  of 
our  own  accord  long  before  we  apparently  need  do  so.  By 
acting  thus  certain  desires  will  rouse  up  our  spirits,  and 
yet  being  confined  within  bounds,  will  not  lead  us  to 
embark  on  vast  and  vague  enterprises. 

XI.  These  remarks  of  mine  apply  only  to  imperfect, 
commonplace,  and  unsound  natures,  not  to  the  wise  man, 
who  needs  not  to  walk  with  timid  and  cautious  gait :  for 
he  has  such  confidence  in  himself  that  he  does  not  hesitate 
to  go  directly  in  the  teeth  of  Fortune,  and  never  will  give 
way  to  her.  Nor  indeed  has  he  any  reason  for  fearing  her, 
for  he  counts  not  only  chattels,  property,  and  high  office, 
but  even  his  body,  his  eyes,  his  hands,  and  everything 
whose  use  makes  life  dearer  to  us,  nay,  even  his  very  self, 
to  be  things  whose  possession  is  uncertain ;  he  lives  as 
though  he  had  borrowed  them,  and  is  ready  to  return  them 
cheerfully  whenever  they  are  claimed.  Yet  he  does  not 
hold  himself  cheap,  because  he  knows  that  he  is  not  his 
own,  but  performs  all  his  duties  as  carefully  and  prudently 
as  a  pious  and  scrupulous  man  would  take  care  of  property 
left  in  his  charge  as  trustee.  When  he  is  bidden  to  give 
them  up,  he  will  not  complain  of  Fortune,  but  will  say,  "  I 
thank  you  for  what  I  have  had  possession  of :  I  have 
managed  your  property  so  as  largely  to  increase  it,  but 
since  you  order  me,  I  give  it  back  to  you  and  return  it 
willingly  and  thankfully.  If  you  still  wish  me  to  own 
anything  of  yours,  I  will  keep  it  for  you  :  if  you  have 
other  views,  I  restore  into  your  hands  and  make  restitution 
of  all  my  wrought  and  coined  silver,  my  house  and  my 

T 


274  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

household.  Should  Nature  recall  what  she  previously  en- 
trusted us  with,  let  us  say  to  her  also :  '  Take  back  my 
spirit,  which  is  better  than  when  you  gave  it  me :  I  do  not 
shuffie  or  hang  back.  Of  my  own  free  will  I  am  ready  to 
return  what  you  gave  me  before  I  could  think :  take  me 
away.'  "  What  hardship  can  there  be  in  returning  to  the 
place  from  whence  one  came  ?  a  man  cannot  live  well  if  he 
knows  not  how  to  die  well.  We  must,  therefore,  take 
away  from  this  commodity  its  original  value,  and  count 
the  breath  of  life  as  a  cheap  matter.  "  We  dislike  gladia- 
tors," says  Cicero,  "  if  they  are  eager  to  save  their  lives  by 
any  means  whatever :  but  we  look  favourably  upon  them 
if  they  are  openly  reckless  of  them."  You  may  be  sure 
that  the  same  thing  occurs  with  us :  we  often  die  because 
we  are  afraid  of  death.  Fortune,  which  regards  our  lives 
as  a  show  in  the  arena  for  her  own  enjoyment,  says,  "Why 
should  I  spare  you,  base  and  cowardly  creature  that  you 
are  ?  you  will  be  pierced  and  hacked  with  all  the  more 
wounds  because  you  know  not  how  to  offer  your  throat  to 
the  knife :  whereas  you,  who  receive  the  stroke  without 
drawing  away  your  neck  or  putting  up  your  hands  to  stop 
it,  shall  both  live  longer  and  die  more  quickly."  He  who 
fears  death  will  never  act  as  becomes  a  living  man  :  but 
he  who  knows  that  this  fate  was  laid  upon  him  as  soon  as 
he  was  conceived  will  live  according  to  it,  and  by  this 
strength  of  mind  will  gain  this  further  advantage,  that 
nothing  can  befal  him  unexpectedly :  for  by  looking  for- 
ward to  everything  which  can  happen  as  though  it  would 
happen  to  him,  he  takes  the  sting  out  of  all  evils,  which 
can  make  no  difference  to  those  who  expect  it  and  are  pre- 
pared to  meet  it :  evil  only  comes  hard  upon  those  who 
have  lived  without  giving  it  a  thought  and  whose  atten- 
tion has  been  exclusively  directed  to  happiness.  Disease, 
captivity,  disaster,  conflagration,  are  none  of  them  unex- 
pected:  I   always    knew  with  what   disorderly    company 


CH.  XI.]  OF   PEACE    OF  MIND.  275 

Nature  had  associated  me.  The  dead  have  often  been 
wailed  for  in  my  neighbourhood :  the  torch  and  taper  have 
often  been  borne  past  my  door  before  the  bier  of  one  who 
has  died  before  his  time :  the  crash  of  falling  buildings 
has  often  resounded  by  my  side  :  night  has  snatched  away 
many  of  those  with  whom  I  have  become  intimate  in  the 
forum,  the  Senate-house,  and  in  society,  and  has  sundered 
the  hands  which  were  joined  in  friendship  :  ought  I  to  be 
surprised  if  the  dangers  which  have  always  been  circling 
around  me  at  last  assail  me  ?  How  large  a  part  of  man- 
kind never  think  of  storms  when  about  to  set  sail  ?  I 
shall  never  be  ashamed  to  quote  a  good  saying  because  it 
comes  from  a  bad  author.  Publilius,  who  was  a  more  power- 
ful writer  than  any  of  our  other  playwrights,  whether 
comic  or  tragic,  whenever  he  chose  to  rise  above  farcical 
absurdities  and  speeches  addressed  to  the  gallery,  among 
many  other  verses  too  noble  even  for  tragedy,  let  alone  for 
comedy,  has  this  one  : — 

*•'  What  one  bath  suffered  may  befall  us  all." 

If  a  man  takes  this  into  his  inmost  heart  and  looks  upon 
all  the  misfortunes  of  other  men,  of  which  there  is  always 
a  great  plenty,  in  this  spirit,  remembering  that  there  is 
nothing  to  prevent  their  coming  upon  him  also,  he  will 
arm  himself  against  them  long  before  they  attack  him.  It 
is  too  late  to  school  the  mind  to  endurance  of  peril  after 
peril  has  come.  "I  did  not  think  this  would  happen," 
and  "  Would  you  ever  have  believed  that  this  would  have 
happened  ?  "  say  you.  But  why  should  it  not  ?  Where 
are  the  riches  after  which  want,  hunger,  and  beggary  do 
not  follow  ?  what  office  is  there  whose  purple  robe,  augur's 
staff,  and  patrician  reins  have  not  as  their  accompaniment 
rags  and  banishment,  the  brand  of  infamy,  a  thousand 
disgraces,  and  utter  reprobation  ?  what  kingdom  is  there 
for   which   ruin,    trampling   under   foot,   a   tyrant  and  a 


276  .MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

butcher   are  not  ready  at  hand  ?   nor  are  these  matters 
divided  by  long  periods  of  time,  but  there  is  but  the  space 
of  an  hour  between  sitting  on  the  throne  ourselves  and 
clasping  the  knees  of  some  one  else  as  suppliants.     Know- 
then  that  every  station  of  life  is  transitory,  and  that  what 
has  ever  happened  to  anybody  may  happen  to  you  also. 
You  are  wealthy  :     are  you  wealthier  than  Pompeius  ?  ^ 
Yet  when  Gains,'*  his  old  relative  and  new  host,  opened 
Caesar's  house  to  bim  in   order  that  he  might  close  his 
own,  he  lacked  both  bread  and  water :  though  he  owned 
so  many  rivers  which  both  rose  and  discharged  themselves 
within  his  dominions,  yet  he  had  to  beg  for  drops  of  water : 
he  perished  of  hunger  and  thirst  in  the  palace  of  his  rela- 
tive, while  his  heir  was  contracting  for  a  public  funeral  for 
one  who  was  in  want  of  food.     You  have  filled  public 
ofl&ces  :  were  they  either  as  important,  as  unlooked  for,  or 
as  all-embracing  as  those  of  Sejanus  ?     Yet  on  the  day  on 
which  the  Senate  disgraced  him,  the  people  tore  him  to 
pieces :    the   executioner  ^    could   find   no   part  left  large 
enough  to  drag  to  the  Tiber,  of  one  upon  whom  gods  and 
men  had  showered  all  that  could  be  given  to  man.     You 
are   a   king :    I  will   not   bid  you    go    to   Croesus   for  an 
example,  he  who  while  yet  alive  saw  his  funeral  pile  both 
lighted  and  extinguished,  being  made  to  outlive  not  only 
his  kingdom  but   even  his  own  death,   nor  to   Jugurtha, 
whom  the  people  of  Rome  beheld  as  a  captive  within  the 
year  in    which  they    had   feared   him.       We    have    seen 
Ptolemaeus    King   of   Africa,    and   Mithridates    King    of 
Armenia,  under  the  charge  of  Gaius's  *  guards :  the  former 
was  sent  into  exile,  the  latter  chose  it  in  order  to  make  his 

^  Haase  reads  Ptolemaeus. 
2  Caligula. 

^  It  was  the  duty  of  the  executioner  to  fasten  a  hook  to  the  neck  of 
condemned  criminals,  by  which  they  were  dragged  to  the  Tiber. 
*  Caligula. 


CH.  XII.]  OF    PEACE    OF  MIND.  Til 

exile  more  honourable.  Among  such  continual  topsy- 
turvy changes,  unless  you  expect  that  whatever  can  happen 
will  happen  to  you,  you  give  adversity  power  against  you, 
a  power  which  can  be  destroyed  by  any  one  who  looks  at  it 
beforehand. 

XII.  The  next  point  to  these  will  be  to  take  care  that 
we  do  not  labour  for  what  is  vain,  or  labour  in  vain  :  that 
is  to  say,  neither  to  desire  what  we  are  not  able  to  obtain, 
nor  yet,  having  obtained  our  desire  too  late,  and  after  much 
toil  to  discover  the  folly  of  our  wishes  :  in  other  words, 
that  our  labour  may  not  be  without  result,  and  that  the 
result  may  not  be  unworthy  of  our  labour :  for  as  a  rule 
sadness  arises  from  one  of  these  two  things,  either  from 
want  of  success  or  from  being  ashamed  of  having  suc- 
ceeded. We  must  limit  the  running  to  and  fro  which  most 
men  practise,  rambling  about  houses,  theatres,  and  market- 
places. They  mind  other  men's  business,  and  always  seem 
as  though  they  themselves  had  something  to  do.  If  you 
ask  one  of  them  as  he  comes  out  of  his  own  door,  "Whither 
are  you  going  ?  "  he  will  answer,  "  By  Hercules,  I  do  not 
know :  but  I  shall  see  some  people  and  do  something." 
They  wander  purposelessly  seeking  for  something  to  do, 
and  do,  not  what  they  have  made  up  their  minds  to  do, 
but  what  has  causually  fallen  in  their  way.  They  move 
uselessly  and  without  any  plan,  just  like  ants  crawling  over 
bushes,  which  creep  up  to  the  top  and  then  down  to  the 
bottom  again  without  gaining  anything.  Many  men  spend 
their  lives  in  exactly  the  same  fashion,  which  one  may  call 
a  state  of  restless  indolence.  You  would  pity  some  of  them 
when  you  see  them  running  as  if  their  house  was  on  fire  : 
they  actually  jostle  all  whom  they  meet,  and  hurry  along 
themselves  and  others  with  them,  though  all  the  while  they 
are  are  going  to  salute  some  one  who  will  not  return  their 
greeting,  or  to  attend  the  funeral  of  some  one  whom  they 
did  not  know :  they  are  going  to  hear  the  verdict  on  one 


278  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

who  often  goes  to  law,  or  to  see  the  wedding  of  one  who 
often  gets  married  :  they  will  follow  a  man's  litter,  and  in 
some  places  will  even  carry  it :  afterwards  returning  home 
weary  with  idleness,  they  swear  that  they  themselves  do 
not  know  why  they  went  out,  or  where  they  have  been,  and 
on  the  following  day  they  will  wander  through  the  same 
round  again.  Let  all  your  work,  therefore,  have  some  pur- 
pose, and  keep  some  object  in  view :  these  restless  people 
are  not  made  restless  by  labour,  but  are  driven  out  of  their 
minds  by  mistaken  ideas :  for  even  they  do  not  put  them- 
selves in  motion  without  any  hope  :  they  are  excited  by 
the  outward  appearance  of  something,  and  their  crazy  mind 
cannot  see  its  futility.  In  the  same  way  every  one  of  those 
who  walk  out  to  swell  the  crowd  in  the  streets,  is  led  round 
the  city  by  worthless  and  empty  reasons ;  the  dawn  drives 
him  forth,  although  he  has  nothing  to  do,  and  after  he  has 
pushed  his  way  into  many  men's  doors,  and  saluted  their 
nomenclators  one  after  the  other,  and  been  turned  away 
from  many  others,  he  finds  that  the  most  difficult  person 
of  all  to  find  at  home  is  himself.  From  this  evil  habit 
comes  that  worst  of  all  vices,  talebearing  and  prying  into 
public  and  private  secrets,  and  the  knowledge  of  many 
things  which  it  is  neither  safe  to  tell  nor  safe  to  listen  to. 

XIII.  It  was,  I  imagine,  following  out  this  principle 
that  Democritis  taught  that  "  he  who  would  live  at  peace 
must  not  do  much  business  either  public  or  private,"  re- 
ferring of  course  to  unnecessary  business :  for  if  there  be 
any  necessity  for  it  we  ought  to  transact  not  only  much 
but  endless  business,  both  public  and  private  ;  in  cases, 
however,  where  no  solemn  duty  invites  us  to  act,  we  had 
better  keep  ourselves  quiet :  for  he  who  does  many  things 
often  puts  himself  in  Fortune's  power,  and  it  is  safest  not 
to  tempt  her  often,  but  always  to  remember  her  existence, 
and  never  to  promise  oneself  anything  on  her  security.  I 
will  set  sail  unless  anything  happens  to  prevent  me,  I  shall 


CH.XTT.]  OF    PEACE   OF  MIND.  279 

be  praetor,  if  nothing  hinders  me,  my  financial  operations 
will  succeed,  unless  anything  goes  wrong  with  them.  This 
is  why  we  say  that  nothing  befals  the  wise  man  which  he 
did  not  expect — we  do  not  make  him  exempt  from  the 
chances  of  human  life,  but  from  its  mistakes,  nor  does 
everything  happen  to  him  as  he  wished  it  would,  but  as  he 
thought  it  would :  now  his  first  thought  was  that  his 
purpose  might  meet  with  some  resistance,  and  the  pain  of 
disappointed  wishes  must  affect  a  man's  mind  less  severely 
if  he  has  not  been  at  all  events  confident  of  success. 

XIY.  Moreover,  we  ought  to  cultivate  an  easy  temper, 
and  not  become  over  fond  of  the  lot  which  fate  has  assigned 
to  us,  but  transfer  ourselves  to  whatever  other  condition 
chance  may  lead  us  to,  and  fear  no  alteration,  either  in  our 
purposes  or  our  position  in  life,  provided  that  we  do  not 
become  subject  to  caprice,  which  of  all  vices  is  the  most 
hostile  to  repose  :  for  obstinacy,  from  which  Fortune  often 
wrings  some  concession,  must  needs  be  anxious  and  un- 
happy, but  caprice,  which  can  never  restrain  itself,  must 
be  more  so.  Both  of  these  qualities,  both  that  of  altering 
nothing,  and  that  of  being  dissatisfied  with  everything,  are 
enemies  to  repose.  The  mind  ought  in  all  cases  to  be 
called  away  from  the  contemplation  of  external  things  to 
that  of  itself :  let  it  confide  in  itself,  rejoice  in  itself,  admire 
its  own  works ;  avoid  as  far  as  may  be  those  of  others,  and 
devote  itself  to  itself  ;  let  it  not  feel  losses,  and  put  a  good 
construction  even  upon  misfortunes.  Zeno,  the  chief  of 
oar  school,  when  he  heard  the  news  of  a  shipwreck,  in 
which  all  his  property  had  been  lost,  remarked,  "  Fortune 
bids  me  follow  philosophy  in  lighter  marching  order."  A 
tyrant  threatened  Theodorus  with  death,  and  even  with 
want  of  burial.  "  You  are  able  to  please  yourself,"  he 
answered,  "  my  half  pint  of  blood  is  in  your  power :  for, 
as  for  burial,  what  a  fool  you  must  be  if  you  suppose  that 
I  care  whether  I  rot  above  ground  or  under  it."     Julius 


280  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

Kanus,  a  man  of  peculiar  greatness,  whom  even  the  fact  of 
his  having  been  born  in  this  century  does  not  prevent  our 
admiring,  had  a  long  dispute  with  Gains,  and  when  as  he 
was  going  away  that  Phalaris  of  a  man  said  to  him, "  That 
you  may  not  delude  yourself  with  any  foolish  hopes,  I  have 
ordered  you  to  be  executed,"  he  answered,  "  I  thank  you, 
most  excellent  prince."  I  am  not  sure  what  he  meant  : 
for  many  ways  of  explaining  his  conduct  occur  to  me.  Did 
he  wish  to  be  reproachful,  and  to  show  him  how  great  his 
cruelty  must  be  if  death  became  a  kindness  ?  or  did  he 
upbraid  him  with  his  accustomed  insanity  ?  for  even  those 
whose  children  were  put  to  death,  and  whose  goods  were 
confiscated,  used  to  thank  him  :  or  was  it  that  he  willingly 
received  death,  regarding  it  as  freedom  ?  Whatever  he 
meant,  it  was  a  magnanimous  answer.  Some  one  may  say, 
"After  this  Gaius  might  have  let  him  live."  Kanus  had 
no  fear  of  this :  the  good  faith  with  which  Gaius  carried 
out  such  orders  as  these  was  well  known.  Will  yon  believe 
that  he  passed  the  ten  intervening  days  before  his  execution 
without  the  slightest  despondency  ?  it  is  marvellous  how 
that  man  spoke  and  acted,  and  how  peaceful  he  was.  He 
was  playing  at  draughts  when  the  centurion  in  charge  of  a 
number  of  those  who  where  going  to  be  executed  bade  him 
join  them :  on  the  summons  he  counted  his  men  and  said 
to  his  companion,  "  Mind  you  do  not  tell  a  lie  after  my 
death,  and  say  that  you  won  ;"  then,  turning  to  the  cen- 
turion, he  said  "  You  will  bear  me  witness  that  I  am  one 
man  ahead  of  him."  Do  you  think  that  Kanus  played  upon 
that  draught-board  ?  nay,  he  played  with  it.  His  friends 
were  sad  at  being  about  to  lose  so  great  a  man  :  "  Why," 
asked  he,  "  are  you  sorrowful  ?  you  are  enquiring  whether 
our  souls  are  immortal,  but  I  shall  presently  know."  Nor 
did  he  up  to  the  very  end  cease  his  search  after  truth,  and 
raised  arguments  upon  the  subject  of  his  own  death.  His 
own  teacher  of   philosophy  accompanied    him,    and    they 


CH.  XV.]  OF   PEACE   OF   MIND.  281 

were  not  far  from  the  hill  on  which  the  daily  sacrifice  to 
Caesar  our  god  was  offered,  when  he  said,  "  What  are  you 
thinking  of  now,  Kanus?  or  what  are  your  ideas  ?"  "I 
have  decided,"  answered  Kanus,  "at  that  most  swiftly- 
passing  moment  of  all  to  watch  whether  the  spirit  will  be 
conscious  of  the  act  of  leaving  the  body."  He  promised, 
too,  that  if  he  made  any  discoveries,  he  would  come  round 
to  his  friends  and  tell  them  what  the  condition  of  the  souls 
of  the  departed  might  be.  Here  was  peace  in  the  very 
midst  of  the  storm  :  here  was  a  soul  worthy  of  eternal 
life,  which  used  its  own  fate  as  a  proof  of  truth,  which 
when  at  the  last  step  of  life  experimented  upon  his  fleeting 
breath,  and  did  not  merely  continue  to  learn  until  he  died, 
but  learned  something  even  from  death  itself.  No  man 
has  carried  the  life  of  a  philosopher  further.  I  will  not 
hastily  leave  the  subject  of  a  great  man,  and  one  who 
deserves  to  be  spoken  of  with  respect :  I  will  hand  thee  down 
to  all  posterity,  thou  most  noble  heart,  chief  among  the 
many  victims  of  Gains. 

XY.  Yet  we  gain  nothing  by  getting  rid  of  all  personal 
causes  of  sadness,  for  sometimes  we  are  possessed  by  hatred 
of  the  human  race.  When  you  reflect  how  rare  simplicity 
is,  how  unknown  innocence,  how  seldom  faith  is  kept, 
unless  it  be  to  our  advantage,  when  you  remember  such 
numbers  of  successful  crimes,  so  many  equally  hateful 
losses  and  gains  of  lust,  and  ambition  so  impatient  even  of 
its  own  natural  limits  that  it  is  willing  to  purchase  distinc- 
tion by  baseness,  the  mind  seems  as  it  were  cast  into  dark- 
ness, and  shadows  rise  before  it  as  though  the  virtues  were 
all  overthrown  and  we  were  no  longer  allowed  to  hope  to 
possess  them  or  benefited  by  their  possession.  We  ought 
therefore  to  bring  ourselves  into  such  a  state  of  mind  that 
all  the  vices  of  the  vulgar  may  not  appear  hateful  to  us, 
but  merely  ridiculous,  and  we  should  imitate  Democritus 
rather  than  Heraclitus.     The  latter  of  these,  whenever  he 


282  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [BK.  IX. 

appeared  in  public,  used  to  weep,  the  former  to  laugh  :  the 
one  thought  all  human  doings  to  be  follies,  the  other 
thought  them  to  be  miseries.  We  must  take  a  higher 
view  of  all  things,  and  bear  with  them  more  easily :  it 
better  becomes  a  man  to  scoff  at  life  than  to  lament  over 
it.  Add  to  this  that  he  who  laughs  at  the  human  race 
deserves  better  of  it  than  he  who  mourns  for  it,  for  the 
former  leaves  it  some  good  hopes  of  improvement,  while 
the  latter  stupidly  weeps  over  what  he  has  given  up  all 
hopes  of  mending.  He  who  after  surveying  the  universe 
cannot  control  his  laughter  shows,  too,  a  greater  mind 
than  he  who  cannot  restrain  his  tears,  because  his  mind  is 
only  affected  in  the  slightest  possible  degree,  and  he  does 
not  think  that  any  part  of  all  this  apparatus  is  either 
important,  or  serious,  or  unhappy.  As  for  the  several 
causes  which  render  us  happy  or  sorrowful,  let  every  one 
describe  them  for  himself,  and  learn  the  truth  of  Bion's 
saying,  "That  all  the  doings  of  men  were  very  like  what  he 
began  with,  and  that  there  is  nothing  in  their  lives  which 
is  more  holy  or  decent  than  their  conception."  Yet  it  is 
better  to  accept  public  morals  and  human  vices  calmly 
without  bursting  into  either  laughter  or  tears ;  for  to  be 
hurt  by  the  sufferings  of  others  is  to  be  for  ever  miserable, 
while  to  enjoy  the  sufferings  of  others  is  an  inhuman  plea- 
sure, just  as  it  is  a  useless  piece  of  humanity  to  weep  and 
pull  a  long  face  because  some  one  is  burying  his  son.  In 
one's  own  misfortunes,  also,  one  ought  so  to  conduct  one- 
self as  to  bestow  upon  them  just  as  much  sorrow  as  reason, 
not  as  much  as  custom  requires  :  for  many  shed  tears  in 
order  to  show  them,  and  whenever  no  one  is  looking  at 
them  their  eyes  are  dry,  but  they  think  it  disgraceful  not 
to  weep  when  every  one  does  so.  So  deeply  has  this  evil 
of  being  guided  by  the  opinion  of  others  taken  root  in  us, 
that  even  grief,  the  simplest  of  all  emotions,  begins  to  be 
counterfeited. 


CH.  XYI.]  OF   PEACE    OP  MIND.  283 

XVI.  There  comes  now  a  part  of  our  subject  which  is 
wont  with  good  cause  to  make  one  sad  and  anxious  :  I 
mean  when  good  men  come  to  bad  ends  ;  when  Socrates  is 
forced  to  die  in  prison,  Rutilius  to  live  in  exile,  Pompeius 
and  Cicero  to  offer  their  necks  to  the  swords  of  their  own 
followers,  when  the  great  Cato,  that  living  image  of  virtue, 
falls  upon  his  sword  and  rips  up  both  himself  and  the 
republic,  one  cannot  help  being  grieved  that  Fortune 
should  bestow  her  gifts  so  unjustly  :  what,  too,  can  a  good 
man  hope  to  obtain  when  he  sees  the  best  of  men  meeting 
with  the  worst  fates.  "Well,  but  see  how  each  of  them 
endured  his  fate,  and  if  they  endured  it  bravely,  long  in 
your  heart  for  courage  as  great  as  theirs  ;  if  they  died  in  a 
womanish  and  cowardly  manner,  nothing  was  lost :  either 
they  deserved  that  you  should  admire  their  courage,  or  else 
they  did  not  deserve  that  you  should  wish  to  imitate  their 
cowardice :  for  what  can  be  more  shameful  than  that  the 
greatest  men  should  die  so  bravely  as  to  make  people 
cowards.  Let  us  praise  one  who  deserves  such  constant 
praises,  and  say,  "  The  braver  you  are  the  happier  you  are  ! 
You  have  escaped  from  all  accidents,  jealousies,  diseases : 
you  have  escaped  from  prison :  the  gods  have  not  thought 
you  worthy  of  ill-fortune,  but  have  thought  that  fortune 
no  longer  deserved  to  have  any  power  over  you":  but 
when  any  one  shrinks  back  in  the  hour  of  death  and  looks 
longingly  at  life,  we  must  lay  hands  upon  him.  I  will 
never  weep  for  a  man  who  dies  cheerfully,  nor  for  one  who 
dies  weeping  :  the  former  wipes  away  my  tears,  the  latter 
by  his  tears  makes  himself  unworthy  that  any  should  be 
shed  for  him.  Shall  I  weep  for  Hercules  because  he  was 
burned  alive,  or  for  Regulus  because  he  was  pierced  by 
so  many  nails,  or  for  Cato  because  he  tore  open  his  wounds 
a  second  time  ?  All  these  men  discovered  how  at  the  cost 
of  a  small  portion  of  time  they  might  obtain  immortality, 
and  by  their  deaths  gained  eternal  life. 


284  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

XyiT.  It  also  proves  a  fertile  source  of  troubles  if  you 
take  pains  to  conceal  your  feelings  and  never  show  your- 
self to  any  one  undisguised,  but,  as  many  men  do,  live  an 
artificial  life,  in  order  to  impose  upon  others  :  for  the  con- 
stant watching  of  himself  becomes  a  torment  to  a  man,  and 
he  dreads  being  caught  doing  something  at  variance  with 
his  usual  habits,  and,  indeed,  we  never  can  be  at  our  ease 
if  we  imagine  that  every  one  who  looks  at  us  is  weighing  our 
real  value :  for  many  things  occur  which  strip  people  of 
their  disguise,  however  reluctantly  they  may  part  with  it, 
and  even  if  all  this  trouble  about  oneself  is  successful,  still 
life  is  neither  happy  nor  safe  when  one  always  has  to  wear 
a  mask.  But  what  pleasure  there  is  in  that  honest  straight- 
forwardness which  is  its  own  ornament,  and  which  conceals 
no  part  of  its  character?  Yet  even  this  life,  which  hides 
nothing  from  any  one  runs  some  risk  of  being  despised ;  for 
there  are  people  who  disdain  whatever  they  come  close  to  : 
but  there  is  no  danger  of  virtue's  becoming  contemptible 
when  she  is  brought  near  our  eyes,  and  it  is  better  to  be 
scorned  for  one's  simplicity  than  to  bear  the  burden  of  un- 
ceasing hypocrisy.  Still,  we  must  observe  moderation  in 
this  matter,  for  there  is  a  great  difference  between  living 
simply  and  living  slovenly.  Moreover,  we  ought  to  retire 
a  great  deal  into  ourselves :  for  association  with  persons 
unlike  ourselves  upsets  all  that  we  had  arranged,  rouses  the 
passions  which  were  at  rest,  and  rubs  into  a  sore  any  weak 
or  imperfectly  healed  place  in  our  minds.  Nevertheless  we 
ought  to  mix  up  these  two  things,  and  to  pass  our  lives 
alternately  in  solitude  and  among  throngs  of  people ;  for 
the  former  will  make  us  long  for  the  society  of  mankind, 
the  latter  for  that  of  ourselves,  and  the  one  will  counteract 
the  other  :  solitude  will  cure  us  when  we  are  sick  of  crowds, 
and  crowds  will  cure  us  when  we  are  sick  of  solitude. 
Neither  ought  we  always  to  keep  the  mind  strained  to  the 


CH.  XVII.]  OF   PEACE    OF   MIND.  285 

same  pitch,  but  it  ought  sometimes  to  be  relaxed  by  amuse- 
ment.    Socrates  did  not  blush   to   play   with  little  boys, 
Cato  used   to  refresh  his  mind  with  wine  after  he  had 
wearied  it  with  application  to  affairs  of  state,  and  Scipio 
would  move  his  triumphal  and  soldierly  limbs  to  the  sound 
of  music,   not  with  a  feeble  and  halting  gait,  as   is^  the 
fashion  now-a-days,  when  we  sway  in  our  very  walk  with 
more  than  womanly  weakness,  but  dancing  as  men  were 
wont  in  the  days  of  old  on  sportive  and  festal  occasions, 
with  manly  bounds,  thinking  it  no  harm  to  be   seen   so 
doing  even  by  their  enemies.     Men's  minds  ought  to  have 
relaxation  :    they  rise  up  better  and  more  vigorous  after 
rest.     We  must  not  force  crops  from  rich  fields,  for  an  un- 
broken course  of  heavy  crops  will  soon  exhaust  their  fer- 
tility, and  so  also  the  liveliness  of  our  minds  will  be  de- 
troyed  by  unceasing  labour,   but  they  will  recover  their 
strength  after  a  short  period  of  rest  and  relief :  for  con- 
tinuous toil  produces  a  sort  of  numbness  and  sluggishness. 
Men  would  not  be  so  eager  for  this,  if  play  and  amusement 
did  not  possess  natural  attractions  for  them,  although  con- 
stant  indulgence  in  them  takes  away  all  gravity  and  all 
strength  from  the  mind :  for  sleep,  also,  is  necessary  for 
our  refreshment,  yet  if  you  prolong  it  for  days  and  nights 
together  it  will  become  death.     There  is  a  great  difference 
between  slackening  your  hold  of  a  thing  and  letting  it  go. 
The  founders  of  our  laws  appointed  festivals,  in  order  that 
men  might  be  publicly  encouraged  to  be  cheerful,  and  they 
thought  it  necessary  to  vary  our  labours  with  amusements, 
and,  as  I  said  before,  some  great  men  have  been  wont  to  give 
themselves  a  certain  number  of  holidays  in  every  month, 
and  some  divided  every  day  into  play-time  and  work-time. 
Thus,  I  remember  that  great  orator  Asinius  Pollio  would 
not  attend  to  any  business  after  the  tenth  hour  :  he  would 
not  even  read  letters  after  that  time  for  fear  some  new 


286  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  IX. 

trouble  should  arise,  but  in  those  two  hours  ^  used  to  get 
rid  of  the  weariness  which  he  had  contracted  during  the 
whole  day.  Some  rest  in  the  middle  of  the  day,  and  re- 
serve some  light  occupation  for  the  afternoon.  Our  an- 
cestors, too,  forbade  any  new  motion  to  be  made  in  the 
Senate  after  the  tenth  hour.  Soldiers  divide  their  watches, 
and  those  who  have  just  returned  from  active  service  are 
allowed  to  sleep  the  whole  night  undisturbed.  We  must 
humour  our  minds  and  grant  them  rest  from  time  to  time, 
which  acts  upon  them  like  food,  and  restores  their  strength. 
It  does  good  also  to  take  walks  out  of  doors,  that  our  spirits 
may  be  raised  and  refreshed  by  the  open  air  and  fresh 
breeze :  sometimes  we  gain  strength  by  driving  in  a  car- 
riage, by  travel,  by  change  of  air,  or  by  social  meals  and  a 
more  generous  allowance  of  wine :  at  times  we  ought  to 
drink  even  to  intoxication,  not  so  as  to  drown,  but  merely 
to  dip  ourselves  in  wine :  for  wine  washes  away  troubles 
and  dislodges  them  from  the  depths  of  the  mind,  and  acts 
as  a  remedy  to  sorrow  as  it  does  to  some  diseases.  The 
inventor  of  wine  is  called  Liber,  not  from  the  licence 
which  he  gives  to  our  tongues,  but  because  he  liberates  the 
mind  from  the  bondage  of  cares,  and  emancipates  it,  ani- 
mates it,  and  renders  it  more  daring  in  all  that  it  attempts. 
Yet  moderation  is  wholesome  both  in  freedom  and  in  wine. 
It  is  believed  that  Solon  and  Arcesilaus  used  to  drink  deep. 
Cato  is  reproached  with  drunkenness  :  but  whoever  casts 
this  in  his  teeth  will  find  it  easier  to  turn  his  reproach  into 
a  commendation  than  to  prove  that  Cato  did  anything 
wrong  :  however,  we  ought  not  to  do  it  often,  for  fear  the 
mind  should  contract  evil  habits,  though  it  ought  some- 
times to  be  forced  into  frolic  and  frankness,  and  to  cast  off 
dull  sobriety  for  a  while.  If  we  believe  the  Grreek  poet, 
"  it  is  sometimes  pleasant  to  be  mad  "  ;  again,  Plato  always 

^  The  Romans  reckoned  twelve  hours  from  sunrise  to  sunset.     These 
"  two  hours  "  were  therefore  the  two  last  of  the  day. 


CH.  XVII.]  OP  PEACE   OF   MIND.  287 

knocked  in  vain  at  the  door  of  poetry  when  he  was  sober ; 
or,  if  we  trust  Aristotle,  no  great  genius  has  ever  been 
without  a  touch  of  insanity.  The  mind  cannot  use  lofty 
language,  above  that  of  the  common  herd,  unless  it  be 
excited.  When  it  has  spurned  aside  the  commonplace 
environments  of  custom,  and  rises  sublime,  instinct  with 
sacred  fire,  then  alone  can  it  chant  a  song  too  grand  for 
mortal  lips :  as  long  as  it  continues  to  dwell  within  itself 
it  cannot  rise  to  any  pitch  of  splendour:  it  must  break 
away  from  the  beaten  track,  and  lash  itself  to  frenzy,  till 
it  gnaws  the  curb  and  rushes  away  bearing  up  its  rider  to 
heights  whither  it  would  fear  to  climb  when  alone. 

I  have  now,  my  beloved  Serenus,  given  you  an  account 
of  what  things  can  preserve  peace  of  mind,  what  things  can 
restore  it  to  us,  what  can  arrest  the  vices  which  secretly 
Undermine  it :  yet  be  assured,  that  none  of  these  is  strong 
enough  to  enable  us  to  retain  so  fleeting  a  blessing,  unless 
we  watch  over  our  vacillating  mind  with  intense  and  un- 
remitting care. 


288 


THE    TENTH    BOOK    OF    THE    DIALOGUES 

OF    L.    ANNAEUS     SENECA, 

ADDEESSED  TO   PAULINUS.^ 

OF  THE  SHOETNESS  OF  LIFE. 


'  I  "HE  greater  part  of  mankind,  my  Paulinns,  complains 
-*-  of  the  unkindness  of  Nature,  because  we  are  born 
only  for  a  short  space  of  time,  and  that  this  allotted  period 
of  life  runs  away  so  swiftly,  nay  so  hurriedly,  that  with 
but  few  exceptions  men's  life  comes  to  an  end  just  as  they 
are  preparing  to  enjoy  it :  nor  is  it  only  the  common  herd 
and  the  ignorant  vulgar  who  mourn  over  this  universal 
misfortune,  as  they  consider  it  to  be  :  this  reflection  has 
wrung  complaints  even  from  great  men.  Hence  comes  that 
well-known  saying  of  physicians,  that  art  is  long  but  life 
is  short :  hence  arose  that  quarrel,  so  unbefitting  a  sage, 
which  Aristotle  picked  with  Nature,  because  she  had  in- 
dulged animals  with  such  length  of  days  that  some  of  them 
lived  for  ten  or  fifteen  centuries,  while  man,  although  born 
for  many  and  such  great  exploits,  had  the  term  of  his 
existence  cut  so  much  shorter.  We  do  not  have  a  very  short 
time  assigned  to  us,  but  we  lose  a  great  deal  of  it :  life  is 
long  enough  to  carry  out  the  most  important  projects  :  we 

^  **0n  croit  que  ce  Paulin  etoit  frere  de  Pauline,  epouse  de  S^neque." 
— La  Grange. 


CH.  II.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF   LIFE.  289 

have  an  ample  portion,  if  we  do  but  arrange  the  whole  of 
it  aright  :  but  when  it  all  runs  to  waste  through  luxury 
and  carelessness,  when  it  is  not  devoted  to  any  good  purpose, 
then  at  the  last  we  are  forced  to  feel  that  it  is  all  over, 
although  we  never  noticed  how  it  glided  away.  Thus  it 
is :  we  do  not  receive  a  short  life,  but  we  make  it  a  short 
one,  and  we  are  not  poor  in  days,  but  wasteful  of  them. 
When  great  and  kinglike  riches  fall  into  the  hands  of  a 
bad  master,  they  are  dispersed  straightway,  but  even  a 
moderate  fortune,  when  bestowed  upon  a  wise  guardian, 
increases  by  use :  and  in  like  manner  our  life  has  great 
opportunities  for  one  who  knows  how  to  dispose  of  it  to  the 
best  advantage. 

II.  Why  do  we  complain  of  Nature  ?  she  has  dealt  kindly 
with  us.  Life  is  long  enough,  if  you  know  how  to  use  it. 
One  man  is  possessed  by  an  avarice  which  nothing  can 
satisfy,  another  by  a  laborious  diligence  in  doing  what  is 
totally  useless  :  another  is  sodden  by  wine :  another  is 
benumbed  by  sloth  :  one  man  is  exhausted  by  an  ambition 
which  makes  him  court  the  good  will  of  others  ^ :  another,, 
through  his  eagerness  as  a  merchant,  is  led  to  visit  every 
land  and  every  sea  by  the  hope  of  gain  :  some  are  plagued 
by  the  love  of  soldiering,  and  are  always  either  endangering 
other  men's  lives  or  in  trembling  for  their  own  :  some 
wear  away  their  lives  in  that  voluntary  slavery,  the  .unre- 
quited service  of  great  men  :  many  are  occupied  either  in 
laying  claim  to  other  men's  fortune  or  in  complaining  of 
their  own  :  a  great  number  have  no  settled  purpose,  and 
are  tossed  from  one  new  scheme  to  another  by  a  rambling, 
inconsistent,  dissatisfied,  fickle  habit  of  mind  :  some  care 
for  no  object  sufficiently  to  try  to  attain  it,  but  lie  lazily 
yawning  until  their  fate  comes  upon  them  :  so  that  I  cannot 

^  "  L'ufi  se  consume  en  projets  d'ambition,  dont  le  succes  depend  du 
suffrage  de  I'autrui." — La  GranCxE. 

U 


290  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [BK.  X. 

doubt  the  truth  of  that  verse  which  the  greatest  of  poets 
has  dressed  in  the  guise  of  an  oracular  response — 

' '  *"^' ''!  '  "  We  live  a  small  part  only  of  our  lives." 

But  all  duration  is  time,  not  life  :  vices  press  upon  us  and 
surround  us  on  every  side,  and  do  not  permit  us  to  regain 
our  feet,  or  to  raise  our  eyes  and  gaze  upon  truth,  but  when 
we  are  down  keep  us  prostrate  and  chained  to  low  desires. 
Men  who  are  in  this  condition  are  never  allowed  to  come 
to  themselves  :  if  ever  by  chance  they  obtain  any  rest,  they 
roll  to  and  fro  like  the  deep  sea,  which  heaves  and  tosses 
after  a  gale,  and  they  never  have  any  respite  from  their 
lusts.  Do  you  suppose  that  I  speak  of  those  whose  ills  are 
notorious  ?  Nay,  look  at  those  whose  prosperity  all  men 
run  to  see  :  they  are  choked  by  their  own  good  things.  To 
how  many  men  do  riches  prove  a  heavy  burden  ?  how  many 
men's  eloquence  and  continual  desire  to  display  their 
own  cleverness  has  cost  them  their  lives  ?  ^  how  many  are 
sallow  with  constant  sensual  indulgence  ?  how  many  have 
no  freedom  left  them  by  the  tribe  of  clients  that  surges 
around  them  ?  Look  through  all  these,  from  the  lowest 
to  the  highest : — this  man  calls  his  friends  to  support  him, 
this  one  is  present  in  court,  this  one  is  the  defendant,  this 
one  pleads  for  him,  this  one  is  on  the  jury :  but  no  one 
lays  claim  to  his  own  self,  every  one  wastes  his  time  over 
some  one  else.  Investigate  those  men,  whose  names  are  in 
every  one's  mouth :  you  will  find  that  they  bear  just  the 
same  marks  :  A  is  devoted  to  B,  and  B  to  C :  no  one  belongs 
to  himself.  Moreover  some  men  are  full  of  most  irrational 
anger:  they  complain  of  the  insolence  of  their  chiefs, 
because  they  have  not  granted  them  an  audience  when  they 
wished  for  it ;  as  if  a  man  had  any  right  to  complain  of 
being  so  haughtily  shut  out  by  another,  when  he  never  has 

^  "  Combien  d'orateurs  qui  s'epuisent  de  sang  et  de  forces  pour  faire 
montrer  de  leur  genie  !  " — La  Grange. 


CH.  III.]  OF  THE   SHORTNESS  OP  LIFE.  291 

leisure  to  give  his  own  conscience  a  hearing.  This  chief 
of  yours,  whoever  he  is,  though  he  may  look  at  you.  in  an 
offensive  manner,  still  will  some  day  look  at  you,  open  his 
ears  to  your  words,  and  give  you  a  seat  by  his  side  :  but 
you  never  design  to  look  upon  yourself,  to  listen  to  your 
own  grievances.  You  ought  not,  then,  to  claim  these 
services  from  another,  especially  since  while  you  yourself 
were  doing  so,  you  did  not  wish  for  an  interview  with 
another  man,  but  were  not  able  to  obtain  one  with  yourself.^ 
III.  Were  all  the  brightest  intellects  of  all  time  to  em- 
ploy themselves  on  this  one  subject,  they  never  could 
sufficiently  express  their  wonder  at  this  blindness  of  men's 
minds  :  men  will  not  allow  any  one  to  establish  himself 
upon  their  estates,  and  upon  the  most  trifling  dispute  about 
the  measuring  of  boundaries,  they  betake  themselves  to 
stones  and  cudgels;  yet  they  allow  others  to  encroach  upon 

'  "  Pour  vous,  jamais  vous  ne  daigna,tes  vous  regarder  seulement,  ou 
vous  entendre.  Ne  faites  pas  non  plus  valoir  votre  con  descendance 
a  ecouter  les  autres.  Lorsque  vous  vous  y  pretez,  ce  n'est  pas  que  vous 
aimiez  a  vous  communiquer  aux  autres ;  c'est  que  vous  craignez  de  vous 
trouver  avec  vous-meme." — La  Grange. 

"  It  is  a  folly  therefore  beyond  Sence, 
When  great  men  will  not  give  us  Audience 
To  count  them  proud ;  how  dare  we  call  it  pride 
When  we  the  same  have  to  ourselves  deny'd. 

Yet  they  how  great,  how  proud  so  e're,  have  bin 
Sometimes  so  courteous  as  to  call  thee  in. 
And  hear  thee  speak  ;  but  thou  could'st  nere  afford 
Thyself  the  leisure  of  a  look  or  word. 

Thou  should'st  not  then  herein  another  blame, 
Because  when  thou  thyself  do'st  do  the  same, 
Thou  would'st  not  be  with  others,  but  we  see 
Plainly  thou  can'st  not  with  thine  own  self  be." 

"  L.  ANNAEUS  SENECA,  the  Philosopher,  his  book  of 
the  Shortness  of  Life,  translated  into  an  English 
Poem.  Imprinted  at  London,  by  William  Goldbird, 
for  the  Author,  mdclxiii." 


292  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

their  lives,  nay,  they  themselves  actually  lead  others  in  i  o 
take  possession  of  them.  Yon  cannot  find  any  one  who 
wants  to  distribute  his  money  ;  yet  among  how  many  people 
does  every  one  distribute  his  life  ?  men  covetously  guard 
their  property  from  waste,  but  when  it  comes  to  waste  of 
time,  they  are  most  prodigal  of  that  of  which  it  would 
become  them  to  be  sparing.  Let  us  take  one  of  the  elders, 
and  say  to  him,  "  We  perceive  that  you  have  arrived  at  the 
extreme  limits  of  human  life  :  you  are  in  your  hundredth 
year,  or  even  older.  Come  now,  reckon  up  your  whole  life 
in  black  and  white :  tell  us  how  much  of  your  time  has 
been  spent  upon  your  creditors,  how  much  on  your  mistress, 
how  much  on  your  king,  how  much  on  your  clients,  how 
much  in  quarrelling  with  your  wife,  how  much  in  keeping 
your  slaves  in  order,  how  much  in  running  up  and  down 
the  city  on  business.  Add  to  this  the  diseases  which  we 
bring  upon  us  with  our  own  hands,  and  the  time  which  has 
laid  idle  without  any  use  having  been  made  of  it ;  you  will 
see  that  you  have  not  lived  as  many  years  as  you  count. 
Look  back  in  your  memory  and  see  how  often  you  have 
been  consistent  in  your  projects,  how  many  days  passed  as 
you  intended  them  to  do  when  you  were  at  your  own 
disposal,  how  often  you  did  not  change  colour  and  your 
spirit  did  not  quail,  how  much  work  you  have  done  in  so 
long  a  time,  how  many  people  have  without  your  knowledge 
stolen  parts  of  your  life  from  you,  how  much  you  have 
lost,  how  large  a  part  has  been  taken  up  by  useless  grief, 
foolish  gladness,  greedy  desire,  or  polite  conversation  ;  how 
little  of  yourself  is  left  to  you  :  you  will  then  perceive  that 
you  will  die  prematurely."  What,  then,  is  the  reason  of 
this  ?  It  is  that  people  live  as  though  they  would  live  for 
ever :  you  never  remember  your  human  frailty ;  you  never 
notice  how  much  of  your  time  has  already  gone  by  :  you 
spend  it  as  though  you  had  an  abundant  and  overflowing 
store  of  it,  though  all  the  while  that  day  which  you  devote 


CH.  IV.J  OF    THE    SHORTNESS   OF    LIFE.  293 

to  some  man  or  to  some  thing  is  perhaps  your  last.  You 
fear  everything,  like  mortals  as  you  are,  and  yet  you  desire 
everything  as  if  you  were  immortals.  You  will  hear  many 
men  say,  "  After  my  fiftieth  year  I  will  give  my^lf  up  to 
leisure  :  my  sixtieth  shall  be  my  last  year  of  public  office  " : 
and  what  guarantee  have  you  that  your  life  will  last  any 
longer  ?  who  will  let  all  this  go  on  just  as  you  have 
arranged  it  ?  are  you  not  ashamed  to  reserve  only  the 
leavings  of  your  life  for  yourself,  and  appoint  for  the  en- 
joyment of  your  own  right  mind  only  that  time  which  you 
cannot  devote  to  any  business  ?  How  late  it  is  to  begin  life 
just  when  we  have  to  be  leaving  it !  What  a  foolish  f orget- 
fulness  of  our  mortality,  to  put  off  wholesome  counsels  until 
our  fiftieth  or  sixtieth  year,  and  to  choose  that  our  lives 
shall  begin  at  a  point  which  few  of  us  ever  reach. 

IV.  You  will  find  that  the  most  powerful  and  highly- 
placed  men  let  fall  phrases  in  which  they  long  for  leisure, 
praise  it,  and  prefer  it  to  all  the  blessings  which  they  enjoy. 
Sometimes  they  would  fain  descend  from  their  lofty  pedestal, 
if  it  could  be  safely  done  :  for  Fortune  collapses  by  its  own 
weight,  without  any  shock  or  interference  from  without. 
The  late  Emperor  Augustus,  upon  whom  the  gods  bestowed 
more  blessings  than  on  any  one  else,  never  ceased  to  pray 
for  rest  and  exemption  from  the  troubles  of  empire :  he 
used  to  enliven  his  labours  with  this  sweet,  though  unreal 
consolation,  that  he  would  some  day  live  for  himself  alone. 
In  a  letter  which  he  addressed  to  the  Senate,  after  pro- 
mising that  his  rest  shall  not  be  devoid  of  dignity  nor 
discreditable  to  his  former  glories,  I  find  the  following 
words  : — "  These  things,  however,  it  is  more  honourable  to 
do  than  to  promise :  but  my  eagerness  for  that  time,  so 
earnestly  longed  for,  has  led  me  to  derive  a  certain  pleasure 
from  speaking  about  it,  though  the  reality  is  still  far 
distant."  ^     He  thought  leisure  so  important,  that  though 

^  "Dans  une  lettre  qu'il  envoya  au  S^nat  apres  avoir  promis  que  son 


294  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

he  could  not  actually  enjoy  it,  yet  he  did  so  by  anticipation 
and  by  thinking  about  it.  He,  who  saw  everything  de- 
pending upon  himself  alone,  who  swayed  the  fortunes  of 
men  and  of  nations,  thought  that  his  happiest  day  would 
be  that  on  which  he  laid  aside  his  greatness.  He  knew  by 
experience  how  much  labour  was  involved  in  that  glory 
that  shone  through  all  lands,  and  how  much  secret  anxiety 
was  concealed  within  it :  he  had  been  forced  to  assert  his 
rights  by  war,  first  with  his  countrymen,  next  with  his 
colleagues,  and  lastly  with  his  own  relations,  and  had  shed 
blood  both  by  sea  and  by  land  : .  after  marching  his  troops 
under  arms  through  Macedonia,  Sicily,  Egypt,  Syria,  Asia 
Minor,  and  almost  all  the  countries  of  the  world,  when  they 
were  weary  with  slaughtering  Romans  he  had  directed 
them  against  a  foreign  foe.  While  he  was  pacifying  the 
Alpine  regions,  and  subduing  the  enemies  whom  he  found 
in  the  midst  of  the  Roman  empire,  while  he  was  extending 
its  boundaries  beyond  the  Rhine,  the  Euphrates,  and  the 
Danube,  at  Rome  itself  the  swords  of  Murena,  Caepio, 
Lepidus,  Egnatius,  and  others  were  being  sharpened  to 
slay  him.  Scarcely  had  he  escaped  from  their  plot,  when 
his  already  failing  age  was  terrified  by  his  daughter  and 
all  the  noble  youths  who  were  pledged  to  her  cause  by 
adultery  with  her  by  way  of  oath  of  fidelity.  Then  there 
was  Paulus  and  Antonius's  mistress,  a  second  time  to  be 

repos  n'aura  rien  indigne  de  la  gloire  de  ses  premieres  annees,  il  ajoute  : 
Mais  I'execution  y  mettra  un  prix,  que  ne  peuvent  y  mettre  les  promesses. 
J  'obeis  cependant  a  la  vive  passion  que  j'ai,  de  me  voir  a  ce  temps  si 
desire ;  et  puisque  I'heureuse  situation  d'affaires  m'en  tient  encore 
^loign^,  j'ai  voulu  du  moins  me  satisfaire  en  partie,  par  la  douceur  que 
je  trouve  k  vous  en  parler." — La  Grange. 

"  Such  words  I  find.     But  these  things  rather  ougliL 

Be  done,  then  said  ;  yet  so  far  hath  the  thought 

Of  that  wish'd  time  prevail'd,  that  though  the  glad 

Fruition  of  the  thing  be  not  yet  had, 

Yet  I,"  &c. 


CH.  VI.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS   OF  LIFE.  295 

feared  by  Rome  :  and  when  he  had  cut  out  these  ulcers 
from  his  very  limbs,  others  grew  in  their  place :  the  empire, 
like  a  body  overloaded  with  blood,  was  always  breaking 
out  somewhere.  For  this  reason  he  longed  for  leisure  :  all 
his  labours  were  based  upon  hopes  and  thoughts  of  leisure  : 
this  was  the  wish  of  him  who  could  accomplish  the  wishes 
of  all  other  men. 

Y.  While  tossed  hither  and  thither  by  Catiline  and  Clo- 
dius,  Pompeius  and  Crassus,  by  some  open  enemies  and  some 
doubtful  friends,  while  he  he  struggled  with  the  struggling 
republic  and  kept  it  from  going  to  ruin,  when  at  last  he  was 
banished,  being  neither  able  to  keep  silence  in  prosperity  nor 
to  endure  adversity  with  patience,  how  often  must  Marcus 
Cicero  have  cursed  that  consulship  of  his  which  he 
never  ceased  to  praise,  and  which  nevertheless  deserved  it  ? 
What  piteous  expressions  he  uses  in  a  letter  to  Atticus 
when  Pompeius  the  father  had  been  defeated,  and  his  son 
was  recruiting  his  shattered  forces  in  Spain  ?  "  Do  you 
ask,"  writes  he,  "  what  I  am  doing  here?  I  am  living  in 
my  Tusculan  villa  almost  as  a  prisoner."  He  adds  more 
afterwards,  wherein  he  laments  his  former  life,  complains 
of  the  present,  and  despairs  of  the  future.  Cicero  called 
himself  "  half  a  prisoner,"  but,  by  Hercules,  the  wise  man 
never  would  have  come  under  so  lowly  a  title :  he  never 
would  be  half  a  prisoner,  but  would  always  enjoy  complete 
and  entire  liberty,  being  free,  in  his  own  power,  and  greater 
than  all  others  :  for  what  can  be  greater  than  the  man  who 
is  greater  than  Fortune  ? 

YI.  When  Livius  Drusus,  a  vigorous  and  energetic  man, 
brought  forward  bills  for  new  laws  and  radical  measures  of 
the  Gracchus  pattern,  being  the  centre  of  a  vast  mob  of  all 
the  peoples  of  Italy,  and  seeing  no  way  to  solve  the  question, 
since  he  was  not  allowed  to  deal  with  it  as  he  wished,  and 
yet  was  not  free  to  throw  it  up  after  having  once  taken 
part  in  it,  complained  bitterly  of  his  life,  which  had  been 


296  ,  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

one  of  nnrest  from  the  very  cradle,  and  said,  we  are  told, 
that  *'  he  was  the  only  person  who  had  never  had  any  holi- 
days even  when  he  was  a  boy."  Indeed,  while  he  was 
still  under  age  and  wearing  the  praetexta,  he  had  the 
courage  to  plead  the  cause  of  accused  persons  in  court,  and 
to  make  use  of  his  influence  so  powerfully  that  it  is  well 
known  that  in  some  causes  his.  exertions  gained  a  verdict. 
Where  would  such  precocious  ambition  stop?  You  may 
be  sure  that  one  who  showed  such  boldness  as  a  child 
i?v^ould  end  by  becoming  a  great  pest  both  in  public  and  in 
private  life :  it  was  too  late  for  him  to  complain  that  he 
had  had  no  holidays,  when  from  his  boyhood  he  had 
been  a  firebrand  and  a  nuisance  in  the  courts.  It  is  a  stock 
question  whether  he  committed  suicide :  for  he  fell  by  a 
sudden  wound  in  the  groin,  and  some  doubted  whether  his 
death  was  caused  by  his  own  hand,  though  none  disputed 
its  having  happened  most  seasonably.  It  would  be  super- 
fluous to  mention  more  who,  while  others  thought  them 
the  happiest  of  men,  have  themselves  borne  true  wit- 
ness to  their  own  feelings,  and  have  loathed  all  that 
they  have  done  for  all  the  years  of  their  lives  :  yet  by  these 
complaints  they  have  effected  no  alteration  either  in  others 
or  in  themselves  :  for  after  these  words  have  escaped  them 
their  feelings  revert  to  their  accustomed  frame.  By  Her- 
cules, that  life  of  you  great  men,  even  though  it  should 
last  for  more  than  a  thousand  years,  is  still  a  very  short 
one :  those  vices  of  yours  would  swallow  up  any  extent  of 
time :  no  wonder  if  this  our  ordinary  span,  which,  though 
Nature  hurries  on,  can  be  enlarged  by  common  sense,  soon 
slips  away  from  you  :  for  you  do  not  lay  hold  of  it  or  hold 
it  back,  and  try  to  delay  the  swiftest  of  all  things,  but  you 
let  it  pass  as  though  it  were  a  useless  thing  and  you  could 
supply  its  place. 

YII.  Among  these  I  reckon  in  the  first  place  those  who 
devote  their  time  to  nothing  but  drinking  and  debauchery  : 


CH.  VII.]  OF   THE    SHORTNESS   OF  LIFE.  297 

for  no  men  are  busied  more  shamefully :  the  others,  al- 
though the  glory  which  they  pursue  is  but  a  counterfeit, 
still  deserve  some  credit  for  their  pursuit  of  it — though 
you  may  tell  me  of  misers,  of  passionate  men,  of  men  who 
hate  and  who  even  wage  war  without  a  cause — yet  all  such 
men  sin  like  men  :  but  the  sin  of  those  who  are  given  up  to 
gluttony  and  lust  is  a  disgraceful  one.  Examine  all  the 
hours  of  their  lives  :  consider  how  much  time  they  spend 
in  calculation,  how  much  in  plotting,  how  much  in  fear, 
how  much  in  giving  and  receiving  flattery,  how  much  in 
entering  into  recognizances  for  themselves  or  for  others, 
how  much  in  banquets,  which  indeed  become  a  serious 
business,  you  will  see  that  they  are  not  allowed  any 
breathing  time  either  by  their  pleasures  or  their  pains. 
Finally,  all  are  agreed  that  nothing,  neither  eloquence  nor 
literature,  can  be  done  properly  by  one  who  is  occupied 
with  something  else ;  for  nothing  can  take  deep  root  in  a 
mind  which  is  directed  to  some  other  subject,  and  which 
rejects  whatever  you  try  to  stuff  into  it.  No  man  knows 
less  about  living  than  a  business  man :  there  is  nothing 
about  which  it  is  more  difficult  to  gain  knowledge.  Other 
arts  have  many  folk  everywhere  who  profess  to  teach 
them :  some  of  them  can  be  so  thoroughly  learned  by 
mere  boys,  that  they  are  able  to  teach  them  to  others : 
but  one's  whole  life  must  be  spent  in  learning  how  to 
live,  and,  which  may  perhaps  surprise  you  more,  one's 
whole  life  must  be  spent  in  learning  how  to  die.  Many 
excellent  men  have  freed  themselves  from  all  hindrances, 
have  given  up  riches,  business,  and  pleasure,  and  have 
made  it  their  duty  to  the  very  end  of  their  lives  to  learn 
how  to  live  :  and  yet  the  larger  portion  of  them  leave  this 
life  confessing  that  they  do  not  yet  know  how  to  live,  and 
still  less  know  how  to  live  as  wise  men.  Believe  me,  it 
requires  a  great  man  and  one  who  is  superior  to  human 
frailties  not  to  allow  any  of  his  time  to  be  filched  from  him : 


298  MINOR   DIALOGDES.  [bK.  X. 

and  therefore  it  follows  that  his  life  is  a  very  long  one, 
because  he  devotes  every  possible  part  of  it  to  himself  :  no 
portion  lies  idle  or  uncultivated,  or  in  another  man's  power ; 
for  he  finds  nothing  worthy  of  being  exchanged  for  his 
time,  which  he  husbands  most  grudgingly.  He,  therefore, 
had  time  enough  :  whereas  those  who  gave  up  a  great  part 
of  their  lives  to  the  people  of  necessity  had  not  enough. 
Yet  you  need  not  suppose  that  the  latter  were  not  sometimes 
conscious  of  their  loss  :  indeed,  you  will  hear  most  of  those 
who  are  troubled  with  great  prosperity  every  now  and  then 
cry  out  amid  their  hosts  of  clients,  their  pleadings  in  court, 
and  their  other  honourable  troubles,  "  I  am  not  allowed  to 
live  my  own  life."  Why  is  he  not  allowed?  because  all 
those  who  call  upon  you  to  defend  them,  take  you  away 
from  yourself.  How  many  of  your  days  have  been  spent 
by  that  defendant  ?  by  that  candidate  for  office  ?  by  that 
old  woman  who  is  weary  with  burying  her  heirs  ?  by  that 
man  who  pretends  to  be  ill,  in  order  to  excite  the  greed  of 
those  who  hope  to  inherit  his  property?  by  that  powerful 
friend  of  yours,  who  uses  you  to  swell  his  train,  not  to  be 
his  friend  ?  Balance  your  account,  and  run  over  all  the 
days  of  your  life ;  you  will  see  that  only  a  very  few  days, 
and  only  those  which  were  useless  for  any  other  purpose, 
have  been  left  to  you.  He  who  has  obtained  the  fasces ' 
for  which  he  longed,  is  eager  to  get  rid  of  them,  and  is 
constantly  saying,  "When will  this  year  be  over?  "  another 
exhibits  public  games,  and  once  would  have  given  a  great 
deal  for  the  chance  of  doing  so,  but  now  "  when,"  says  he, 
"shall  I  escape  from  this?"  another  is  an  advocate  who 
is  fought  for  in  all  the  courts,  and  who  draws  immense 
audiences,  who  crowd  all  the  forum  to  a  far  greater  distance 
than  they  can  hear  him ;  "  When,"  says  he,  "will  vacation- 
time  come?"     Every  man  hurries  through  his   life,  and 

^  Fasces,  the  rods  carried  by  the  lictors  as  symbols  of  office.     See 
Smith's  "  Diet,  of  Antiquities,"  s.v. 


CH.  VIII.]  OF   THE    SHORTNESS   OF  LIFE.  299 

suffers  from  a  yearning  for  the  future,  and  a  weariness  of 
the  present :  but  he  who  disposes  of  all  his  time  for  his  own 
purposes,  who  arranges  all  his  days  as  though  he  were 
arranging  the  plan  of  his  life,  neither  wishes  for  nor  fears 
the  morrow :  for  what  new  pleasure  can  any  hour  now 
bestow  upon  him  ?  he  knows  it  all,  and  has  indulged  in  it 
all  even  to  satiety.  Fortune  may  deal  with  the  rest  as  she 
will,  his  life  is  already  safe  from  her:  such  a  man  may 
gain  something,  but  cannot  lose  anything :  and,  indeed,  he 
can  only  gain  anything  in  the  same  way  as  one  who  is 
already  glutted  and  filled  can  get  some  extra  food  which 
he  takes  although  he  does  not  want  it.  You  have  no 
grounds,  therefore,  for  supposing  that  any  one  has  lived 
long,  because  he  has  wrinkles  or  grey  hairs  :  such  a  man 
has  not  lived  long,  but  has  only  been  long  alive.  "Why  ! 
would  you  think  that  a  man  had  voyaged  much  if  a  fierce 
gale  had  caught  him  as  soon  as  he  left  his  port,  and  he  had 
been  driven  round  and  round  the  same  place  continually 
by  a  succession  of  winds  blowing  from  opposite  quarters  ? 
such  a  man  has  not  travelled  much,  he  has  only  been  much 
tossed  about. 

yill.  I  am  filled  with  wonder  when  I  see  some  men 
asking  others  for  their  time,  and  those  who  are  asked  for 
it  most  willing  to  give  it :  both  parties  consider  the  object 
for  which  the  time  is  given,  but  neither  of  them  thinks  of 
the  time  itself,  as  though  in  asking  for  this  one  asked  for 
nothing,  and  in  giving  it  one  gave  nothing :  we  play  with 
what  is  the  most  precious  of  all  things :  yet  it  escapes  men's 
notice,  because  it  is  an  incorporeal  thing,  and  because  it 
does  not  come  before  our  eyes ;  and  therefore  it  is  held 
very  cheap,  nay,  hardly  any  value  whatever  is  put  upon  it. 
Men  set  the  greatest  store  upon  presents  or  pensions,  and 
hire  out  their  work,  their  services,  or  their  care  in  order  to 
gain  them  :  no  one  values  time  :  they  give  it  much  more 
freely,  as  though  it  cost  nothing.     Yet  you  will  see  these 


300  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

same  people  clasping  the  knees  of  their  physician  as  sup- 
pliants when  they  are  sick  and  in  present  peril  of  death, 
and  if  threatened  with  a  capital  charge  willing  to  give  all 
that  they  possess  in  order  that  they  may  live :  so  incon- 
sistent are  they.  Indeed,  if  the  number  of  every  man's 
future  years  coald  be  laid  before  him,  as  we  can  lay  that 
of  his  past  years,  how  anxious  those  who  found  that  they 
had  but  few  years  remaining  would  be  to  make  the  most  of 
them  ?  Yet  it  is  easy  to  arrange  the  distribution  of  a 
quantity,  however  small,  if  we  know  how  much  there  is : 
what  you  ought  to  husband  most  carefully  is  that  which 
may  run  short  you  know  not  when.  Yet  yon  have  no 
reason  to  suppose  that  they  do  not  know  how  dear  a  thing 
time  is  :  they  are  wont  to  say  to  those  whom  they  especially 
love  that  they  are  ready  to  give  them  a  part  of  their  own 
years.  They  do  give  them,  and  know  not  that  they  are 
giving  them  ;  but  they  give  them  in  such  a  manner  that 
they  themselves  lose  them  without  the  others  gaining  them. 
They  do  not,  however,  know  whence  they  obtain  their 
supply,  and  therefore  they  are  able  to  endure  the  waste  of 
what  is  not  seen  :  yet  no  one  will  give  you  back  your  years, 
no  one  will  restore  them  to  you  again  :  your  life  will  run 
its  course  when  once  it  has  begun,  and  will  neither  begin 
again  or  efface  what  it  has  done.  It  will  make  no  dis- 
turbance, it  will  give  you  no  warning  of  how  fast  it  flies  : 
it  will  move  silently  on :  it  will  not  prolong  itself  at  the 
command  of  a  king,  or  at  the  wish  of  a  nation  :  as  it 
started  on  its  first  day,  so  it  will  run :  it  will  never  turn 
aside,  never  delay.  What  follows,  then  ?  Why  !  you  are 
busy,  but  life  is  hurrying  on  :  death  will  be  here  some  time 
or  other,  and  you  must  attend  to  him,  whether  you  will  or 
no. 

IX.  Can  anything  be  mentioned  which  is  more  insane 
than  the  ideas  of  leisure  of  those  people  who  boast  of  their 
worldly   wisdom  ?     They  live   laboriously,   in  order    that 


Cfl.  IX.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF   LIFE.  301 

they  may  live  better  ;  they  fit  themselves  out  for  life  at 
the  expense  of  life  itself,  and  cast  their  thoughts  a  long 
way  forwards :  yet  postponement  is  the  greatest  waste  of 
life :  it  wrings  day  after  day  from  us,  and  takes  away 
the  present  by  promising  something  hereafter :  there  is  no 
such  obstacle  to  true  living  as  waiting,  which  loses  to-day 
while  it  is  depending  on  the  morrow.  You  dispose  of 
that  which  is  in  the  hand  of  Fortune,  and  you  let  go  that 
which  is  in  your  own.  Whither  are  you  looking,  whither 
are  you  stretching  forward  ?  everything  future  is  uncer- 
tain': live  now  straightway.  See  how  the  greatest  of  bards 
cries  to  you  and  sings  in  wholesome  verse  as  though 
inspired  with  celestial  fire  : — 

"The  best  of  wretched  mortals'  days  is  that 
Which  is  the  first  to  fly." 

Why  do  you  hesitate,  says  ho,  why  do  you  stand  back  ? 
unless  you  seize  it  it  will  have  fled  :  and  even  if  you  do  seize 
it,  it  will  still  fly.  Our  swiftness  in  making  use  of  our  time 
ought  therefore  to  vie  with  the  swiftness  of  time  itself,  and 
we  ought  to  drink  of  it  as  we  should  of  a  fast-running 
torrent  which  will  not  be  always  running.  The  poet, 
too,  admirably  satirizes  our  boundless  thoughts,  when  he 
says,  not  "the  first  age,"  but  "the  first  day."  Why  are 
you  careless  and  slow  while  time  is  flying  so  fast,  and  why 
do  you  spread  out  before  yourself  a  vision  of  long  months  and 
years,  as  many  as  your  greediness  requires  ?  he  talks  with 
you  about  one  day,  and  that  a  fast-fleeting  one.  There  can, 
then,  be  no  doubt  that  the  best  days  are  those  which  fly 
first  for  wretched,  that  is,  for  busy  mortals,  whose  minds 
are  still  in  their  childhood  when  old  age  comes  upon  them, 
and  they  reach  it  unprepared  and  without  arms  to  combat 
it.  They  have  never  looked  forward :  they  have  all  of  a 
sudden  stumbled  upon  old  age  :  they  never  noticed  that  it 
was  stealing  upon  them  day  by  day.  As  conversation,  or 
reading,  or  deep  thought  deceives  travellers,  and  they  find 


302  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

themselves  at  their  journey's  end  before  they  knew  that  it 
was  drawing  near,  so  in  this  fast  and  never-ceasing  journey 
of  life,  v^^hich  we  make  at  the  same  pace  whether  we  are 
asleep  or  awake,  busy  people  never  notice  that  they  are 
moving  till  they  are  at  the  end  of  it. 

X.  If  I  chose  to  divide  this  proposition  into  separate 
steps,  supported  by  evidence,  many  things  occur  to  me  by 
which  I  could  prove  that  the  lives  of  busy  men  are  the 
shortest  of  all.  Fabianus,  who  was  none  of  your  lecture- 
room  philosophers,  but  one  of  the  true  antique  pattern, 
used  to  say,  "  We  ought  to  fight  against  the  passions  by 
main  force,  not  by  skirmishing,  and  upset  their  line  of 
battle  by  a  home  charge,  not  by  inflicting  trifling  wounds  : 
I  do  not  approve  of  dallying  with  sophisms ;  they  must  be 
crushed,  not  merely  scratched."  Yet,  in  order  that  sinners 
may  be  confronted  with  their  errors,  they  must  be  taught, 
and  not  merely  mourned  for.  Life  is  divided  into  three 
parts :  that  which  has  been,  that  which  is,  and  that  which 
is  to  come  :  of  these  three  stages,  that  which  we  are  passing 
through  is  brief,  that  which  we  are  about  to  pass  is  uncer- 
tain, and  that  which  we  have  passed  is  certain :  this  it  is 
over  which  Fortune  has  lost  her  rights,  and  which  can  fall 
into  no  other  man's  power:  and  this  is  what  busy  men 
lose :  for  they  have  no  leisure  to  look  back  upon  the  past, 
and  even  if  they  had,  they  take  no  pleasure  in  remembering 
what  they  regret :  they  are,  therefore,  unwilling  to  turn 
their  minds  to  the  contemplation  of  ill-spent  time,  and  they 
shrink  from  reviewing  a  course  of  action  whose  faults  become 
glaringly  apparent  when  handled  a  second  time,  although  they 
were  snatched  at  when  we  were  under  the  spell  of  immediate 
gratification.  No  one,  unless  all  his  acts  have  been  submitted 
to  the  infallible  censorship  of  his  own  conscience,  willingly 
turns  his  thoughts  back  upon  the  past.  He  who  has  ambi- 
tiously desired,  haughtily  scorned,  passionately  vanquished, 
treacherously    deceived,    greedily  snatched,  or   prodigally 


CH.  XI.]  OF   THE    SHORTNESS   OF   LIFE.  303 

wasted  much,  must  needs  fear  his  own  memory ;  yet  this 
is  a  holy  and  consecrated  part  of  our  time,  beyond  the 
reach  of  all  human  accidents,  removed  from  the  dominion 
of  Fortune,  and  which  cannot  be  disquieted  by  want,  fear, 
or  attacks  of  sickness  :  this  can  neither  be  troubled  nor 
taken  away  from  one  :  we  possess  it  for  ever  undisturbed. 
Our  present  consists  only  of  single  days,  and  those,  too, 
taken  one  hour  at  a  time :  but  all  the  days  of  past  times 
appear  before  us  when  bidden,  and  allow  themselves  to  be 
examined  and  lingered  over,  albeit  busy  men  cannot  find 
time  for  so  doing.  It  is  the  privilege  of  a  tranquil  and 
peaceful  mind  to  review  all  the  parts  of  its  life :  but  the 
minds  of  busy  men  are  like  animals  under  the  yoke,  and 
cannot  bend  aside  or  look  back.  Consequently,  their  life 
passes  away  into  vacancy,  and  as  you  do  no  good  however 
much  you  may  pour  into  a  vessel  which  cannot  keep  or 
hold  what  you  put  there,  so  also  it  matters  not  how  much 
time  you  give  men  if  it  can  find  no  place  to  settle  in,  but 
leaks  away  through  the  chinks  and  holes  of  their  minds. 
Present  time  is  very  short,  so  much  so  that  to  some  it 
seems  to  be  no  time  at  all ;  for  it  is  always  in  motion,  and 
runs  swiftly  away :  it  ceases  to  exist  before  it  comes,  and 
can  no  more  brook  delay  than  can  the  universe  or  the  host  of 
heaven,  whose  unresting  movement  never  lets  them  pause 
on  their  way.  Busy  men,  therefore,  possess  present  time 
alone,  that  being  so  short  that  they  cannot  grasp  it,  and 
when  they  are  occupied  with  many  things  they  lose  even 
this. 

XI.  In  a  word,  do  you  want  to  know  for  how  short  a  time 
they  live  ?  see  how  they  desire  to  live  long :  broken-down 
old  men  beg  in  their  prayers  for  the  addition  of  a  few  more 
years :  they  pretend  to  be  younger  than  they  are :  they 
delude  themselves  with  their  own  lies,  and  are  as  willing  to 
cheat  themselves  as  if  they  could  cheat  Fate  at  the  same 
time :  when  at  last  some  weakness  reminds  them  that  they 


304  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bk.  X. 

are  mortal,  they  die  as  it  were  in  terror :  they  may  rather 
be  said  to  be  dragged  out  of  this  life  than  to  depart  from  it. 
They  loudly  exclaim  that  they  have  been  fools  and  have  not 
lived  their  lives,  and  declare  that  if  they  only  survive  this 
sickness  they  will  spend  the  rest  of  their  lives  at  leisure  :  at 
such  times  they  reflect  how  uselessly  they  have  laboured  to 
provide  themselves  with  what  they  have  never  enjoyed,  and 
how  all  their  toil  has  gone  for  nothing :  but  those  whose 
life  is  spent  without  any  engrossing  business  may  well 
find  it  ample:  no  part  of  it  is  made  over  to  others,  or 
scattered  here  and  there ;  no  part  is  entrusted  to  Fortune,  is 
lost  by  neglect,  is  spent  in  ostentatious  giving,  or  is  useless  : 
all  of  it  is,  so  to  speak,  invested  at  good  interest.  A  very 
small  amount  of  it,  therefore,  is  abundantly  sufficient,  and 
so,  when  his  last  day  arrives,  the  wise  man  will  not  hang 
back,  but  will  walk  with  a  steady  step  to  meet  death. 

XII.  Perhaps  you  will  ask  me  whom  I  mean  by  "  busy 
men  "  ?  you  need  not  think  that  I  allude  only  to  those  who 
are  hunted  out  of  the  courts  of  justice  with  dogs  at  the 
close  of  the  proceedings,  those  whom  you  see  either  honour- 
ably jostled  by  a  crowd  of  their  own  clients  or  contempt- 
uously hustled  in  visits  of  ceremony  by  strangers,  who 
call  them  away  from  home  to  hang  about  their  patron's 
doors,  or  who  make  use  of  the  praetor  s  sales  by  auction  to 
acquire  infamous  gains  which  some  day  will  prove  their 
own  ruin.  Some  men's  leisure  is  busy :  in  their  country 
house  or  on  their  couch,  in  complete  solitude,  even  though 
they  have  retired  from  all  men's  society,  they  still  continue 
to  worry  themselves  :  we  ought  not  to  say  that  such  men's 
life  is  one  of  leisure,  but  their  very  business  is  sloth. 
Would  you  call  a  man  idle  who  expends  anxious  finicking 
care  in  the  arrangement  of  his  Corinthian  bronzes,  valuable 
only  through  the  mania  of  a  few  connoisseurs  ?  and  who 
passes  the  greater  part  of  his  days  among  plates  of  rusty 
metal  ?  who  sits  in  the  palaestra  (shame,  that  our  very  vices 


CH.  XII.]  OF   THE    SHORTNESS    OF    LIFE.  305 

should  be  foreign)  watching  boys  wrestling  ?  who  distri- 
bntes  his  gangs  of  fettered  slaves  into  pairs  according  to  their 
age  and  colour  ?  who  keeps  athletes  of  the  latest  fashion  ? 
Why,  do  you  call  those  men  idle,  who  pass  many  hours  at 
the  barber's  while  the  growth  of  the  past  night  is  being 
plucked  out  by  the  roots,  holding  councils  over  each  several 
hair,  while  the  scattered  locks  are  arranged  in  order  and 
those  which  fall  back  are  forced  forward  on  to  the  forehead  ? 
How  angry  they  become  if  the  shaver  is  a  little  careless,  as 
though  he  were  shearing  a  man !  what  a  white  heat  they 
work  themselves  into  if  some  of  their  mane  is  cut  away,  if 
some  part  of  it  is  ill-arranged,  if  all  their  ringlets  do  not  lie 
in  regular  order  !  who  of  them  would  not  rather  that  the 
state  were  overthrown  than  that  his  hair  should  be 
ruffled  ?  who  does  not  care  more  for  the  appearance  of  his 
head  than  for  his  health  ?  who  would  not  prefer  ornament 
to  honour  ?  Do  you  call  these  men  idle,  who  make  a  busi- 
ness of  the  comb  and  looking-glass  ?  what  of  those  who  de- 
vote their  lives  to  composing,  hearing,  and  learning  songs^ 
who  twist  their  voices,  intended  by  Nature  to  sound  best 
and  simplest  when  used  straightforwardly,  through  all  the 
turns  of  futile  melodies  ;  whose  fingers  are  always  beating- 
time  to  some  music  on  which  they  are  inwardly  meditating  ; 
who,  when  invited  to  serious  and  even  sad  business  may 
be  heard  humming  an  air  to  themselves  ? — such  people  are 
not  at  leisure,  but  are  busy  about  trifles.  As  for  their  ban- 
quets, by  Hercules,  I  cannot  reckon  them  among  their  unoc- 
cupied times  when  I  see  with  what  anxious  care  they  set 
out  their  plate,  how  laboriously  they  arrange  the  girdles  of 
their  waiters'  tunics,  how  breathlessly  they  watch  to  see  how 
the  cook  dishes  up  the  wild  boar,  with  what  speed,  when  the 
signal  is  given,  the  slave-boys  run  to  perform  their  duties, 
how  skilfully  birds  are  carved  into  pieces  of  the  right  si25^, 
how  painstakingly  wretched  youths  wipe  up  the  spittings  of 
drunken  men.     By  these  means  men  seek  credit  for  taste 

X 


306  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

and  grandeur,  and  their  vices  follow  them  so  far  into  their 
privacy  that  they  can  neither  eat  nor  drink  without  a  view 
to  effect.  Nor  should  I  count  those  men  idle  who  have 
themselves  carried  hither  and  thither  in  sedans  and  litters, 
and  who  look  forward  to  their  regular  hour  for  taking  this 
exercise  as  though  they  were  not  allowed  to  omit  it :  men 
who  are  reminded  by  some  one  else  when  to  bathe,  when  to 
swim,  when  to  dine :  they  actually  reach  such  a  pitch  of 
languid  effeminacy  as  not  to  be  able  to  find  out  for  them- 
selves whether  they  are  hungry.  I  have  heard  one  of  these 
luxurious  folk — if  indeed,  we  ought  to  give  the  name  of 
luxury  to  unlearning  the  life  and  habits  of  a  man — when  he 
was  carried  in  men's  arms  out  of  the  bath  and  placed  in  his 
chair,  say  inquiringly,  *'  Am  I  seated  ?  "  Do  you  suppose 
that  such  a  man  as  this,  who  did  not  know  when  he  was 
seated,  could  know  whether  he  was  alive,  whether  he  could 
see,  whether  he  was  at  leisure  ?  I  can  hardly  say  whether 
I  pity  him  more  if  he  really  did  not  know  or  if  he  pretended 
not  to  know  this.  Such  people  do  really  become  unconscious 
of  much,  but  they  behave  as  though  they  were  unconscious 
of  much  more:  they  delight  in  some  failings  because  they 
consider  them  to  be  proofs  of  happiness :  it  seems  the  part 
of  an  utterly  low  and  contemptible  man  to  know  what  he  is 
doing.  After  this,  do  you  suppose  that  playwrights  draw 
largely  upon  their  imaginations  in  their  burlesques  upon 
luxury  :  by  Hercules,  they  omit  more  than  they  invent ; 
in  this  age,  inventive  in  this  alone,  such  a  number  of  in- 
credible vices  have  been  produced,  that  already  you  are 
able  to  reproach  the  playwrights  with  omitting  to  notice 
them.  To  think  that  there  should  be  any  one  who  had  so 
far  lost  his  senses  through  luxury  as  to  take  some  one  else's 
opinion  as  to  whether  he  was  sitting  or  not  ?  This  man 
certainly  is  not  at  leisure :  you  must  bestow  a  different 
title  on  him :  he  is  sick,  or  rather  dead :  he  only  is  at 
leisure  who  feels  that  he  is  at  leisure :  but  this  creature  is 


CH,  XIII.]  OF  THE    SHORTNESS    OF   LIFE.  307 

only  half  alive,  if  he  wants  some  one  to  tell  him  what 
position  his  body  is  in.  How  can  snch  a  man  be  able  to 
dispose  of  any  time  ? 

XIII.  It  would  take  long  to  describe  the  various  indi- 
viduals who  have  wasted  their  lives  over  playing  at  draughts, 
playing  at  ball,  or  toasting  their  bodies  in  the  sun  :  men 
are  not  at  leisure  if  their  pleasures  partake  of  the  character 
of  business,  for  no  one  will  doubt  that  those  persons  are 
laborious  triflers  who  devote  themselves  to  the  study  of 
futile  literary  questions,  of  whom  there  is  already  a  great 
number  in  Rome  also.  It  used  to  be  a  peculiarly  Greek 
disease  of  the  mind  to  investigate  how  many  rowers  Ulysses 
had,  whether  the  Iliad  or  the  Odyssey  was  written  first, 
and  furthermore,  whether  they  were  written  by  the  same 
author,  with  other  matters  of  the  same  stamp,  which 
neither  please  your  inner  consciousness  if  you  keep  them 
to  yourself,  nor  make  you  seem  more  learned,  but  only  more 
troublesome,  if  you  publish  them  abroad.  See,  already 
this  vain  longing  to  learn  what  is  useless  has  taken  hold 
of  the  Romans :  the  other  day  I  heard  somebody  telling 
who  was  the  first  Roman  general  who  did  this  or  that : 
Duillius  was  the  first  who  won  a  sea-fight,  Curius  Dentatus 
was  the  first  who  drove  elephants  in  his  triumph :  moreover, 
these  stories,  though  they  add  nothing  to  real  glory,  do 
nevertheless  deal  with  the  great  deeds  of  our  countrymen  : 
such  knowledge  is  not  profitable,  yet  it  claims  our  atten- 
tion as  a  fascinating  kind  of  folly.  I  will  even  pardon 
those  who  want  to  know  who  first  persuaded  the  Romans 
to  go  on  board  ship.  It  was  Claudius,  who  for  this  reason 
was  surnamed  Caudex,  because  any  piece  of  carpentry 
formed  of  many  planks  was  called  caudex  by  the  ancient 
Romans,  for  which  reason  public  records  are  called  Codices, 
and  by  old  custom  the  ships  which  ply  on  the  Tiber  with 
provisions  are  called  codicariae.  Let  us  also  allow  that  it  is 
to  the  point  to  tell  how  Valerius  Corvinus  was  the  first 


308  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X- 

to  conquer  Messana,  and  first  of  the  family  of  the  Yalerii 
transferred  the  name  of  the  captured  city  to  his  own,  and 
was  called  Messana,  and  how  the  people  gradually  corrupted 
the  pronunciation  and  called  him  Messalla :  or  would  you 
let  any  one  find  interest  in  Lucius  Sulla  having  been  the  first 
to  let  lions  loose  in  the  circus,  they  having  been  previously 
exhibited  in  chains,  and  hurlers  of  darts  having  been 
sent  by  King  Bocchus  to  kill  them  ?  This  may  be  permitted 
to  their  curiosity :  but  can  it  serve  any  useful  purpose  to 
know  that  Pompeius  was  the  first  to  exhibit  eighteen 
elephants  in  the  circus,  who  were  matched  in  a  mimic 
battle  with  some  convicts  ?  The  leading  man  in  the  state, 
and  one  who,  according  to  tradition,  was  noted  among 
the  ancient  leaders  of  the  state  for  his  transcendent  goodness 
of  heart,  thought  it  a  notable  kind  of  show  to  kill  men  in 
a  manner  hitherto  unheard  of.  Do  they  fight  to  the  death  ? 
that  is  not  cruel  enough  :  are  they  torn  to  pieces  ?  that  is 
not  cruel  enough :  let  them  be  crushed  flat  by  animals  of 
enormous  bulk.  It  would  be  much  better  that  such  a 
thing  should  be  forgotten,  for  fear  that  hereafter  some 
potentate  might  hear  of  it  and  envy  its  refined  barbarity. 
O,  how  doth  excessive  prosperity  blind  our  intellects  !  at 
the  moment  at  which  he  was  casting  so  many  troops  of 
wretches  to  be  trampled  on  by  outlandish  beasts,  -when  he 
was  proclaiming  war  between  such  different  creatures, 
when  he  was  shedding  so  much  blood  before  the  eyes  of 
the  Roman  people,  whose  blood  he  himself  was  soon  to 
shed  even  more  freely,  he  thought  himself  the  master  of 
the  whole  world;  yet  he  afterwards,  deceived  by  the 
treachery  of  the  Alexandrians,  had  to  offer  himself  to  the 
dagger  of  the  vilest  of  slaves,  and  then  at  last  discovered 
what  an  empty  boast  was  his  surname  of  "  The  Great." 
But  to  return  to  the  point  from  which  I  have  digressed,  I 
will  prove  that  even  on  this  very  subject  some  people 
expend   nseless    pains.      The  same  author  tells   us   that 


CH.  XIV.]  OF  THE    SHORTNESS   OF  LIFE.  309 

Metellus,  when  he  triumphed  after  having  conquered  the 
Carthaginians  in  Sicily,  was  the  only  Eoman  who  ever  had 
a  hundred  and  twenty  captured  elephants  led  before  his 
car :  and  that  Sulla  was  the  last  Roman  who  extended  the 
pomoerium/  which  it  was  not  the  custom  of  the  ancients 
to  extend  on  account  of  the  conquest  of  provincial,  but 
only  of  Italian  territory.  Is  it  more  useful  to  know  this, 
than  to  know  that  the  Mount  Aventine,  according  to 
him,  is  outside  of  the  pomoerium,  for  one  of  two  reasons, 
either  because  it  was  thither  that  the  plebeians  seceded,  or 
because  when  Remus  took  his  auspices  on  that  place  the 
birds  which  he  saw  wei^  not  propitious  :  and  other  stories 
without  number  of  the  like  sort,  which  are  either  actual 
falsehoods  or  much  the  same  as  falsehoods  ?  for  even  if 
you  allow  that  these  authors  speak  in  all  good  faith,  if 
they  pledge  themselves  for  the  truth  of  what  they  write, 
still,  whose  mistakes  will  be  made  fewer  by  such  stories  ? 
whose  passions  will  be  restrained  ?  whom  will  they  make 
more  brave,  more  just,  or  more  gentlemanly  ?  My  friend 
Fabianus  used  to  say  that  he  was  not  sure  that  it  was  not 
better  not  to  apply  oneself  to  any  studies  at  all  than  to 
become  interested  in  these. 

XIV.  The  only  persons  who  are  really  at  leisure  are 
those  who  devote  themselves  to  philosophy:  and  they  alone 
really  live  :  for  they  do  not  merely  enjoy  their  own  life- 
time, but  they  annex  every  century  to  their  own :  all 
the  years  which  have  passed  before  them  belong  to  them. 
Unless  we  are  the  most  ungrateful  creatures  in  the  world, 
we  shall  regard  these  noblest  of  men,  the  founders  of 
divine  schools  of  thought,  as  having  been  born  for  us,  and 
having  prepared  life  for  us :  we  are  led  by  the  labour  of 
others  to  behold  most  beautiful  things  which  have  been 
brought  out  of  darkness  into  light :  we  are  not  shut  out 
from  any  period,  we  can  make  our  way  into  every  subject, 
^  See  Smith's  "  Diet,  of  Antiquities." 


310  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

and,  if  only  we  can  summon  up  sufficient  strength  of  mind 
to  overstep  tlie  narrow  limit  of  human  weakness,  we  have 
a  vast  extent  of  time  wherein  to  disport  ourselves  :  we  may- 
argue  with  Socrates,  doubt  with  Carneades,  repose  with 
Epicurus,  overcome  human  nature  with  the  Stoics,  out- 
herod  it  with  the  Cynics.  Since  Nature  allows  us  to 
commune  with  every  age,  why  do  we  not  abstract  ourselves 
from  our  own  petty  fleeting  span  of  time,  and  give  our- 
selves up  with  our  whole  mind  to  what  is  vast,  what 
is  eternal,  what  we  share  with  better  men  than  our- 
selves ?  Those  who  gad  about  in  a  round  of  calls,  who 
worry-  themselves  and  others,  after  they  have  indulged 
their  madness  to  the  full,  and  crossed  every  patron's 
threshold  daily,  leaving  no  open  door  unentered,  after 
they  have  hawked  about  their  interested  greetings  in 
houses  of  the  most  various  character, — after  all,  how  few 
people  are  they  able  to  see  out  of  so  vast  a  city,  divided 
among  so  many  different  ruling  passions  :  how  many  will 
be  moved  by  sloth,  self-indulgence,  or  rudeness  to  deny 
them  admittance :  how  many,  after  they  have  long  plagued 
them,  will  run  past  them  with  feigned  hurry  ?  how  many 
will  avoid  coming  out  through  their  entrance-hall  with  its 
crowds  of  clients,  and  will  escape  by  some  concealed  back- 
door ?  as  though  it  were  not  ruder  to  deceive  their  visitor 
than  to  deny  him  admittance  ! — how  many,  half  asleep  and 
stupid  with  yesterday's  debauch,  can  hardly  be  brought  to 
return  the  greeting  of  the  wretched  man  who  has  broken 
his  own  rest  in  order  to  wait  on  that  of  another,  even  after 
his  name  has  been  whispered  to  them  for  the  thousandth 
time,  save  by  a  most  offensive  yawn  of  his  half-opened  lips. 
We  may  truly  say  that  those  men  are  pursuing  the  true 
path  of  duty,  who  wish  every  day  to  consort  on  the 
most  familiar  terms  with  Zeno,  Pythagoras,  Democritus, 
and  the  rest  of  those  high  priests  of  virtue,  with  Aristotle 
and  with  Theophrastus.     None  of  these  men  will  be  "en- 


CH.   XY.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF  LIFE.  311 

gaged,"  none  of  these  will  fail  to  send  you  away  after 
visiting  him  in  a  happier  frame  of  mind  and  on  better 
terms  with  yourself,  none  of  them  will  let  you  leave  him 
empty-handed  :  yet  their  society  may  be  enjoyed  by  all 
men,  and  by  night  as  well  as  by  day. 

XV.  None  of  these  men  will  force  you  to  die,  but  all  of 
them  will  teach  you  how  to  die :  none  of  these  will  waste 
your  time,  but  will  add  his  own  to  it.  The  talk  of  these 
men  is  not  dangerous,  their  friendship  will  not  lead  you  to 
the  scaffold,  their  society  will  not  ruin  you  in  expenses : 
you  may  take  from  them  whatsoever  you  will ;  they  will 
not  prevent  your  taking  the  deepest  draughts  of  their 
wisdom  that  you  please.  What  blessedness,  what  a  fair  old 
age  awaits  the  man  who  takes  these  for  his  patrons !  he 
will  have  friends  with  whom  he  may  discuss  all  matters, 
great  and  small,  whose  advice  he  may  ask  daily  about  him- 
self, from  whom  he  will  hear  truth  without  insult,  praise 
without  flattery,  and  according  to  whose  likeness  he  may 
model  his  own  character.  We  are  wont  to  say  that  we  are 
not  able  to  choose  who  our  parents  should  be,  but  that 
they  were  assigned  to  us  by  chance ;  yet  we  may  be  bom 
just  as  we  please :  there  are  several  families  of  the  noblest 
intellects  :  choose  which  you  would  like  to  belong  to :  by 
your  adoption  you  will  not  receive  their  name  only,  but  also 
their  property,  which  is  not  intended  to  be  guarded  in  a 
mean  and  miserly  spirit :  the  more  persons  you  divide  it 
among  the  larger  it  becomes.  These  will  open  to  you  the 
path  which  leads  to  eternity,  and  will  raise  you  to  a  height 
from  whence  none  shall  cast  you  down.  By  this  means 
alone  can  you  prolong  your  mortal  life,  nay,  even  turn  it 
into  an  immortal  one.  High  office,  monuments,  all  that 
ambition  records  in  decrees  or  piles  up  in  stone,  soon  passes 
away  :  lapse  of  time  casts  down  and  ruins  everything  ;  but 
those  things  on  which  Philosophy  has  set  its  seal  are 
beyond  the  reach  of  injury :  no  age  will  discard  them  or 


312  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

lessen  their  force,  each  succeeding  century  will  add  some- 
what to  the  respect  in  which  they  are  held :  for  we  look 
upon  what  is  near  us  with  jealous  eyes,  but  we  admire 
what  is  further  off  with  less  prejudice.  The  wise  man's 
life,  therefore,  includes  much :  he  is  not  hedged  in  by  the 
same  limits  which  confine  others  :  he  alone  is  exempt  from 
the  laws  by  which  mankind  is  governed :  all  ages  serve 
him  like  a  god.  If  any  time  be  past,  he  recals  it  by  his 
memory ;  if  it  be  present,  he  uses  it ;  if  it  be  future,  he 
anticipates  it :  his  life  is  a  long  one  because  he  concentrates 
all  times  into  it. 

XYI.  Those  men  lead  the  shortest  and  unhappiest  lives 
who  forget  the  past,  neglect  the  present,  and  dread  the 
future :  when  they  reach  the  end  of  it  the  poor  wretches 
learn  too  late  that  they  were  busied  all  the  while  that  they 
were  doing  nothing.  You  need  not  think,  because  some- 
times they  call  for  death,  that  their  lives  are  long :  their 
folly  torments  them  with  vague  passions  which  lead  them 
into  the  very  things  of  which  they  are  afraid :  they  often, 
therefore,  wish  for  death  because  they  live  in  fear.  Neither 
is  it,  as  you  might  think,  a  proof  of  the  length  of  their  lives 
that  they  often  find  the  days  long,  that  they  often  com- 
plain how  slowly  the  hours  pass  until  the  appointed  time 
arrives  for  dinner  :  for  whenever  they  are  left  without 
their  usual  business,  they  fret  helplessly  in  their  idleness, 
and  Jknow  not  how  to  arrange  or  to  spin  it  out.  They 
betake  themselves,  therefore,  to  some  business,  and  all  the 
intervening  time  is  irksome  to  them ;  they  would  wish, 
by  Hercules,  to  skip  over  it,  just  as  they  wish  to  skip  over 
the  intervening  days  before  a  gladiatorial  contest  or  some 
other  time  appointed  for  a  public  spectacle  or  private  indul- 
gence :  all  postponement  of  what  they  wish  for  is  grievous  to 
them.  Yet  the  very  time  which  they  enjoy  is  brief  and  soon 
past,  and  is  made  much  briefer  by  their  own  fault :  for  they 
tun  from  one  pleasure  to  another,  and  are  not  able  to  devote 


CH,  XVII.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF  LIFE.  313 

themselves  consistently  to  one  passion  :  their  days  are  not 
long,  but  odious  to  them  :  on  the  other  hand,  how  short  they 
find  the  nights  which  they  spend  with  courtezans  or  over 
wine  ?  Hence  arises  that  folly  of  the  poets  who  encourage 
the  errors  of  mankind  by  their  myths,  and  declare  that 
Jupiter  to  gratify  his  voluptuous  desires  doubled  the  length 
of  the  night.  Is  it  not  adding  fuel  to  our  vices  to  name 
the  gods  as  their  authors,  and  to  offer  our  distempers  free 
scope  by  giving  them  deity  for  an  example  ?  How  can  the 
nights  for  which  men  pay  so  dear  fail  to  appear  of  the 
shortest  ?  they  lose  the  day  in  looking  forward  to  the  night, 
and  lose  the  night  through  fear  of  the  dawn. 

XYII.  Such  men's  very  pleasures  are  restless  and  dis- 
turbed by  various  alarms,  and  at  the  most  joyous  moment 
of  all  there  rises  the  anxious  thought :  "  How  long 
will  this  last  ?  "  This  frame  of  mind  has  led  kings  to 
weep  over  their  power,  and  they  have  not  been  so  much 
delighted  at  the  grandeur  of  their  position,  as  they  have 
been  terrified  by  the  end  to  which  it  must  some  day  come. 
That  most  arrogant  Persian  king,^  when  his  army  stretched 
over  vast  plains  and  could  not  be  counted  but  only  measured, 
burst  into  tears  at  the  thought  that  in  less  than  a  hundred 
years  none  of  all  those  warriors  would  be  alive :  yet  their  death 
was  brought  upon  them  by  the  very  man  who  wept  over  it, 
who  was  about  to  destroy  some  of  them  by  sea,  some  on  land, 
some  in  battle,  and  some  in  flight,  and  who  would  in  a  very 
short  space  of  time  put  an  end  to  those  about  whose  hundredth 
year  he  showed  such  solicitude.  Why  need  we  wonder  at 
their  very  joys  being  mixed  with  fear  ?  they  do  not  rest 
upon  any  solid  grounds,  but  are  disturbed  by  the  same 
emptiness  from  which  they  spring.  What  must  we  suppose 
to  be  the  misery  of  such  times  as  even  they  acknowledge  to 
be  wretched,  when  even  the  joys  by  which  they  elevate 
themselves  and  raise  themselves  above  their  fellows  are  of 
^  Xerxes. 


314  MINOR   DULOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

a  mixed  character.  [AH  the  greatest  blessings  are  enjoyed 
with  fear,  and  no  thing  is  so  untrustworthy  as  extreme 
prosperity :  we  require  fresh  strokes  of  good  fortune  to 
enable  us  to  keep  that  which  we  are  enjoying,  and  even 
those  of  our  prayers  which  are  answered  require  fresh 
prayers.  Everything  for  which  we  are  dependent  on  chance 
is  uncertain  :  the  higher  it  rises,  the  more  opportunities  it 
has  of  falling.  Moreover,  no  one  takes  any  pleasure  in 
what  is  about  to  fall  into  ruin :  very  wretched,  therefore, 
as  well  as  very  short  must  be  the  lives  of  those  who  work 
very  hard  to  gain  what  they  must  work  even  harder  to 
keep :  they  obtain  what  they  wish  with  infinite  labour,  and 
they  hold  what  they  have  obtained  with  fear  and  trembling. 
Meanwhile  they  take  no  account  of  time,  of  which  they  will 
never  have  a  fresh  and  larger  supply :  they  substitute  new 
occupations  for  old  ones,  one  hope  leads  to  another,  one 
ambition  to  another  :  they  do  not  seek  for  an  end  to  their 
wretchedness,  but  they  change  its  subject.  Do  our  own  pre- 
ferments trouble  us  ?  nay,  those  of  other  men  occupy  more 
of  our  time.  Have  we  ceased  from  our  labours  in  canvassing  ? 
then  we  begin  others  in  voting.  Have  we  got  rid  of  the 
trouble  of  accusation  ?  then  we  begin  that  of  judging. 
Has  a  man  ceased  to  be  a  judge  ?  then  he  becomes  an 
examiner.  Has  he  grown  old  in  the  salaried  management 
of  other  people's  property  ?  then  he  becomes  occupied  with 
his  own.  Marius  is  discharged  from  military  service ;  he 
becomes  consul  many  times  :  Quintius  is  eager  to  reach  the 
end  of  his  dictatorship  ;  he  will  be  called  a  second  time 
from  the  plough :  Scipio  marched  against  the  Cartha- 
ginians before  he  was  of  years  sufficient  for  so  great  an 
undertaking  ;  after  he  has  conquered  Hannibal,  conquered 
Antiochus,  been  the  glory  of  his  own  consulship  and  the 
surety  for  that  of  his  brother,  he  might,  had  he  wished  it, 
have  been  set  on  the  same  pedestal  with  Jupiter ;  but  civil 
factions  will  vex  the  saviour  of  the  state,  and  he  who  when 


CH.  XVIII.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF    LIFE.  315'. 

a  young  man  disdained  to  receive  divine  honours,  will 
take  pride  as  an  old  man  in  obstinately  remaining  in  exile. 
We  shall  never  lack  causes  of  anxiety,  either  pleasurable 
or  painful  :  our  life  will  be  pushed  along  from  one  business 
to  another:  leisure  will  always  be  wished  for,  and  never 
enjoyed. 

XYIII.  Whefore,  my  dearest  Paulinus,  tear  yourself 
away  from  the  common  herd,  and  since  you  have  seen  more 
rough  weather  than  one  would  think  from  your  age,  betake 
yourself  at  length  to  a  more  peaceful  haven  :  reflect  what 
waves  you  have  sailed  through,  what  storms  you  have 
endured  in  private  life,  and  brought  upon  yourself  in 
public.  Your  courage  has  been  sufficiently  displayed  by 
many  toilsome  and  wearisome  proofs ;  try  how  it  will 
deal  with  leisure  :  the  greater,  certainly  the  better  part  of 
your  life,  has  been  given  to  your  country  ;  take  now^  some 
part  of  your  time  for  yourself  as  well.  I  do  not  urge  you 
to  practise  a  dull  or  lazy  sloth,  or  to  drown  all  your  fiery 
spirit  in  the  pleasures  which  are  dear  to  the  herd :  that  is 
not  rest :  you  can  find  greater  works  than  all  those  which  you 
have  hitherto  so  manfully  carried  out,  upon  which  you  may 
employ  yourself  in  retirement  and  security.  You  manage 
the  revenues  of  the  entire  world,  as  unselfishly  as  though 
they  belonged  to  another,  as  laboriously  as  if  they  were 
your  own,  as  scrupulously  as  though  they  belonged  to  the 
public :  you  win  love  in  an  office  in  which  it  is  hard  to 
avoid  incurring  hatred;  yet,  believe  me,  it  is  better  to 
understand  your  own  mind  than  to  understand  the 
corn-market.  Take  away  that  keen  intellect  of  yours, 
so  well  capable  of  grappling  with  the  greatest  subjects, 
from  a  post  which  may  be  dignified,  but  which  is  hardly 
fitted  to  render  life  happy,  and  reflect  that  you  did 
not  study  from  childhood  all  the  branches  of  a  liberal 
education  merely  in  order  that  many  thousand  tons  of 
corn  might  safely  be  entrusted  to  your  charge :  you  have 


316  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

given  us  promise  of  something  greater  and  nobler  than 
this.  There  will  never  be  any  want  of  strict  economists 
or  of  laborious  workers  :  slow-going  beasts  of  burden  are 
better  suited  for  carrying  loads  than  well-bred  horses, 
whose  generous  swiftness  no  one  would  encumber  with 
a  heavy  pack.  Think,  moreover,  how  full  of  risk  is 
the  great  task  which  you  have  undertaken  :  you  have  to 
deal  with  the  human  stomach  :  a  hungry  people  will  not 
endure  reason,  will  not  be  appeased  by  justice,  and  will 
not  hearken  to  any  prayers.  Only  just  a  few  days 
ago,  when  G.  Caesar  perished,  grieving  for  nothing  so 
much  (if  those  in  the  other  world  can  feel  grief)  as  that 
the  Roman  people  did  not  die  with  him,  there  was  said  to 
be  only  enough  corn  for  seven  or  eight  days'  consumption  : 
while  he  was  making  bridges  with  ships  ^  and  playing  with 
the  resources  of  the  empire,  want  of  provisions,  the  worst 
evil  that  can  befall  even  a  besieged  city,  was  at  hand  :  his 
imitation  of  a  crazy  outlandish  and  misproud  king  very 
nearly  ended  in  ruin,  famine,  and  the  general  revolution 
which  follows  famine.  What  must  then  have  been  the 
feelings  of  those  who  had  the  charge  of  supplying  the  city 
with  corn,  who  were  in  danger  of  stoning,  of  fire  and  sword, 
of  Gains  himself  ?  "With  consummate  art  they  concealed 
the  vast  internal  evil  by  which  the  state  was  menaced,  and 
were  quite  right  in  so  doing  ;  for  some  diseases  must  be 
cured  without  the  patient's  knowledge :  many  have  died 
through  discovering  what  was  the  matter  with  them. 

XIX.  Betake  yourself  to  these  quieter,  safer,  larger 
fields  of  action  ;  do  you  think  that  there  can  be  any  com- 
parison between  seeing  that  corn  is  deposited  in  the  public 

^  "  Seneque  parle  ici  du  pont  que  Caligula  fit  construire  sur  le  golphe 

de  Bales,  I'an  de  Kome  791,  40  de  J.  C II  rassembla  et  fitentrer 

dans  la  construction  de  son  pont  tous  les  vaisseaux  qui  se  trouverent  dans 
les  ports  d'ltalie  et  des  contrees  voisines.  II  n'excepta  pas  ineme  ceux 
qui  etoient  destines  a  y  apporter  des  grains  etrangers,"  &c. — La  Gtrangk. 


CH.XX.]  OF    THE    SHORTNESS    OF    LIFE.  317 

granary  without  being  stolen  by  the  fraud  or  spoilt  by  the 
carelessness  of  the  importer,  that  it  does  not  suffer  from 
damp  or  overheating,  and  that  it  measures  and  weighs  as 
much  as  it  ought,  and  beginning  the  study  of  sacred  and 
divine  knowledge,  which  will  teach  you  of  what  elements 
the  gods  are  formed,  what  are  their  pleasures,  their  posi- 
tion, their  form  ?  to  what  changes  your  soul  has  to  look 
forward  ?  where  Nature  will  place  us  when  we  are  dismissed 
from  our  bodies  ?  what  that  principle  is  which  holds  all 
the  heaviest  particles  of  our  universe  in  the  middle,  sus- 
pends the  lighter  ones  above,  puts  fire  highest  of  all,  and 
causes  the  stars  to  rise  in  their  courses,  with  many  other 
matters,  full  of  marvels  ?  Will  you  not  ^  cease  to  grovel 
on  earth  and  turn  your  mind's  eye  on  these  themes  ?  nay, 
while  your  blood  still  flows  swiftly,  before  your  knees  grow 
feeble,  you  ought  to  take  the  better  path.  In  this  course 
of  life  there  await  you  many  good  things,  such  as  love  and 
practice  of  the  virtues,  forgetfulness  of  passions,  knowledge 
of  how  to  live  and  die,  deep  repose.  The  position  of  all 
busy  men  is  unhappy,  but  most  unhappy  of  all  is  that  of 
those  who  do  not  even  labour  at  their  own  affairs,  but  have 
to  regulate  their  rest  by  another  man's  sleep,  their  walk  by 
another  man's  pace,  and  whose  very  love  and  hate,  the 
freest  things  in  the  world,  are  at  another's  bidding.  If 
such  men  wish  to  know  how  short  their  lives  are,  let  them 
think  how  small  a  fraction  of  them  is  their  own. 

XX.  When,  therefore,  you  see  a  man  often  wear  the 
purple  robes  of  office,  and  hear  his  name  often  repeated  in 
the  forum,  do  not  envy  him:  he  gains  these  things  by 
losing  so  much  of  his  life.  Men  throw  away  all  their 
years  in  order  to  have  one  year  named  after  them  as  con- 
sul :  some  lose  their  lives  during  the  early  part  of  the 
struggle,  and  never  reach  the  height  to  which  they  aspired : 

^  For  vis  tu  see  Juv.  v. ,  vis  tu  consuetis,  &c.     Mayor's  note. 


318  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  X. 

some  after  having  snbmitted  to  a  thousand  indignities  in 
order  to  reach  the  crowning  dignity,  have  the  miserable 
reflexion  that  the  only  result  of  their  labours  will  be  the 
inscription   on  their  tombstone.     Some,  while  telling  off 
extreme  old   age,  like   youth,   for  new  aspirations,  have 
found  it  fail  from  sheer  weakness  amid  great  and  presump- 
tuous enterprises.     It  is  a  shameful  ending,  when  a  man's 
breath  deserts  him  in  a  court  of  justice,  while,  although 
well  stricken  in  years,  he  is  still  striving  to  gain  the  sympa- 
thies of  an  ignorant  audience  for  some  obscure  litigant :  it 
is  base  to  perish  in  the  midst  of  one's  business,  wearied  with 
living  sooner  than  with  working;  shameful,  too,  to  die  in 
the  act  of  receiving  payments,  amid  the  laughter  of  one's 
long-expectant  heir.      I  cannot  pass  over  an  an  instance 
which  occurs  to  me :    Turannius  was  an  old  man  of  the 
most  painstaking  exactitude,  who  after  entering  upon  his 
ninetieth  year,  when  he  had  by  Gr.  Caesar's  own  act  been 
relieved  of  his  duties  as  collector  of  the  revenue,  ordered 
himself  to  be   laid   out  on  his  bed  and  mourned  for  as 
though  he  were  dead.     The  whole  house  mourned  for  the 
leisure  of  its  old  master,  and  did  not  lay  aside  its  mourning 
Tintil  his  work  was  restored  to  him.     Can  men  find  such 
pleasure  in  dying  in  harness  ?     Yet  many  are  of  the  same 
mind :  they  retain  their  wish  for  labour  longer  than  their 
<;apacity  for  it,  and  fight  against  their  bodily  weakness ; 
they  think  old  age  an  evil  for  no  other  reason  than  because 
it  lays  them  on  the  shelf.     The  law  does  not  enrol  a  soldier 
after  his  fiftieth  year,  or  require  a  senator's  attendance 
after  his  sixtieth  :  but  men  have  more  difficulty  in  obtain- 
ing their  own  consent  than  that  of  the  law  to  a  life  of 
leisure.     Meanwhile,  while  they  are  plundering  and  being 
plundered,  while  one  is  disturbing  another's  repose,  and  all 
rare  being  made  wretched  alike,  life  remains  without  profit, 
without  pleasure,  without  any  intellectual  progress :  no  one 
keeps  death  well  before  his  eyes,  no  one  refrains  from  far- 


CH.  XX.]  OF   THE   SHORTNESS    OF    LIFE.  319 

reaching  hopes.  Some  even  arrange  things  which  lie 
beyond  their  own  lives,  such  as  huge  sepulchral  buildings, 
the  dedication  of  public  works,  and  exhibitions  to  be  given 
at  their  funeral-pyre,  and  ostentatious  processions  :  but,  by 
Hercules,  the  funerals  of  such  men  ought  to  be  conducted 
by  the  light  of  torches  and  wax  tapers,^  as  though  they 
had  lived  but  a  few  days. 

^  As  those  of  children  were. 


320 


THE  ELEVENTH  BOOK   OP   THE   DIALOGUES 

OF    L.    ANNAEUS    SENECA, 

ADDRESSED   TO   HIS   MOTHER,  HELVIA. 

OF  CONSOLATION. 


A /T  Y  best  of  mothers,  I  have  often  felt  eager  to  console 
'*'■'■  you,  and  have  as  often  checked  that  impnlse.  Many 
things  urged  me  to  make  the  attempt :  in  the  first  place,  I 
thought  that  if,  though  I  might  not  be  able  to  restrain 
your  tears,  yet  that  if  I  could  even  wipe  them  away,  I 
should  set  myself  free  from  all  my  own  sorrows  :  then  I  was 
quite  sure  that  I  should  rouse  you  from  your  grief  with 
more  authority  if  I  had  first  shaken  it  off  myself.  I  feared, 
too,  lest  Fortune,  though  overcome  by  me,  might  neverthe- 
less overcome  some  one  of  my  family.  Then  I  endeavoured 
to  crawl  and  bind  up  your  wounds  in  the  best  way  I  could, 
holding  my  hand  over  my  own  wound  ;  but  then  again 
other  considerations  occurred  to  me  which  held  me  back  : 
I  knew  that  I  must  not  oppose  your  grief  during  its  first 
transports,  lest  my  very  attempts  at  consolation  might 
irritate  it,  and  add  fuel  to  it :  for  in  diseases,  also,  there  is 
nothing  more  hurtful  than  medicine  applied  too  soon.  I 
waited,  therefore,  until  it  exhausted  itself  by  its  own 
violence,  and  being  weakened  by  time,  so  that  it  was  able 
to  bear  remedies,  would  allow  itself  to  be  handled  and 


CH.  II.]  HELYIA.  321 

toadied.  Beside  this,  while  turning  over  all  the  works 
which  the  greatest  geniuses  have  composed,  for  the  purpose 
of  soothing  and  pacifying  grief,  I  could  not  find  any 
instance  of  one  who  had  offered  consolation  to  his  relatives, 
while  be  himself  was  being  sorrowed  over  by  them.  Thus, 
the  subject  being  a  new  one,  I  hesitated  and  feared  that 
instead  of  consoling,  I  might  embitter  your  grief.  Then 
there  was  the  thought  that  a  man  who  had  only  just  raised 
his  head  after  burying  his  child,  and  who  wished  to  console 
his  friends,  would  require  to  use  new  phrases  not  taken  from 
our  common  every-day  words  of  comfort :  but  every  sorrow 
of  more  than  usual  magnitude  must  needs  prevent  one's 
choosing  one's  words,  seeing  that  it  often  prevents  one's 
using  one's  very  voice.  However  this  may  be,  I  will  make 
the  attempt,  not  trusting  in  my  own  genius,  but  because  my 
consolation  will  be  most  powerful  since  it  is  I  who  offer  it. 
You  never  would  deny  me  anything,  and  I  hope,  though 
all  grief  is  obstinate,  that  you  will  surely  not  refuse  me 
this  request,  that  you  will  allow  me  to  set  bounds  to  your 
sorrow. 

II.  See  how  far  I  have  presumed  upon  your  indulgence  : 
I  have  no  doubts  about  my  having  more  power  over  you 
than  your  grief,  than  which  nothing  has  more  power  over 
the  unhappy.  In  order,  therefore,  to  avoid  encountering 
it  straightway,  I  will  at  first  take  its  part  and  offer 
it  every  encouragement :  I  will  rip  up  and  bring  to 
light  again  wounds  already  scarred.  Some  one  may  say, 
"  What  sort  of  consolation  is  this,  for  a  man  to  rake  up 
buried  evils,  and  to  bring  all  its  sorrows  before  a  mind 
which  scarcely  can  bear  the  sight  of  one?"  but  let  him 
reflect  that  diseases  which  are  so  malignant  that  they  do 
but  gather  strength  from  ordinary  remedies,  may  often  be 
cured  by  the  opposite  treatment :  I  will,  therefore,  display 
before  your  grief  all  its  woes  and  miseries  :  this  will  be  to 
effect  a  cure,  not  by  soothing  measures,  but  by  cautery  and 

T 


322  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

the  knife.  What  shall  I  gain  by  this  ?  I  shall  make  the 
mind  that  could  overcome  so  many  sorrows,  ashamed  to 
bewail  one  wound  more  in  a  body  so  full  of  scars.  Let 
those  whose  feeble  minds  have  been  enervated  by  a  long 
period  of  happiness,  weep  and  lament  for  many  days,  and 
faint  away  on  receiving  the  slightest  blow  :  but  those  whose 
years  have  all  been  passed  amid  catastrophes  should  bear 
the  severest  losses  with  brave  and  unyielding  patience. 
Continual  misfortune  has  this  one  advantage,  that  it  ends 
by  rendering  callous  those  whom  it  is  always  scourging.  Ill 
fortune  has  given  you  no  respite,  and  has  not  left  even 
your  birthday  free  from  the  bitterest  grief :  you  lost  your 
mother  as  soon  as  you  were  born,  nay,  while  you  were  being 
born,  and  you  came  into  life,  as  it  were,  an  outcast :  you  grew 
up  under  a  step-mother,  whom  you  made  into  a  mother  by 
all  the  obedience  and  respect  which  even  a  real  daughter 
could  have  bestowed  upon  her :  and  even  a  good  step-mother 
costs  every  one  dear.  You  lost  your  most  affectionate  uncle, 
a  brave  and  excellent  man,  just  when  you  were  awaiting 
his  return  :  and,  lest  Fortune  should  weaken  its  blows  by 
dividing  them,  within  a  month  you  lost  your  beloved 
husband,  by  whom  you  had  become  the  mother  of  three 
children.  This  sorrowful  news  was  brought  you  while 
you  were  already  in  mourning,  while  all  your  children 
were  absent,  so  that  all  your  misfortunes  seemed  to  have 
been  purposely  brought  upon  you  at  a  time  when  your 
grief  could  nowhere  find  any  repose.  I  pass  over  all  the 
dangers  and  alarms  which  you  have  endured  without  any 
respite  :  it  was  but  the  other  day  that  you  received  the 
bones  of  three  of  your  grandchildren  in  the  bosom  from 
which  you  had  sent  them  forth :  less  than  twenty  days 
after  you  had  buried  my  child,  who  perished  in  your  arms 
and  amid  your  kisses,  you  heard  that  I  had  been  exiled  : 
you  wanted  only  this  drop  in  your  cup,  to  have  to  weep  for 
those  who  still  lived. 


I 


CH.  Y.]  HELVIA.  323 

III.  The  last  wound  is,  I  admit,  the  severest  that  yon 
have  ever  yet  sustained :  it  has  not  merely  torn  the  skin, 
but  has  pierced  you  to  the  very  heart :  yet  as  recruits  cry 
aloud  when  only  slightly  wounded,  and  shudder  more  at 
the  hands  of  the  surgeon  than  at  the  sword,  while  veterans 
even  when  transfixed  allow  their  hurts  to  be  dressed  without 
a  groan,  and  as  patiently  as  if  they  were  in  some  one  else's 
body,  so  now  you  ought  to  offer  yourself  courageously  to 
be  healed.  Lay  aside  lamentations  and  wailings,  and  all 
the  usual  noisy  manifestations  of  female  sorrow  :  you  have 
gained  nothing  by  so  many  misfortunes,  if  you  have  not 
learned  how  to  sufPer.  Now,  do  I  seem  not  to  have  spared 
you  ?  nay,  I  have  not  passed  over  any  of  your  sorrows, 
but  have  placed  them  all  together  in  a  mass  before  you. 

IV.  I  have  done  this  by  way  of  a  heroic  remedy  :  for  I 
have  determined  to  conquer  this  grief  of  yours,  not  merely 
to  limit  it ;  and  I  shall  conquer  it,  I  believe,  if  in  the  first 
place  I  can  prove  that  I  am  not  suffering  enough  to  entitle 
me  to  be  called  unhappy,  let  alone  to  justify  me  in  rendering 
my  family  unhappy :  and,  secondly,  if  I  can  deal  with 
your  case  and  prove  that  even  your  misfortune,  which 
comes  upon  you  entirely  through  me,  is  not  a  severe  one. 

The  point  to  which  I  shall  first  address  myself  is  that  of 
which  your  motherly  love  longs  to  hear,  I  mean,  that  I  am 
not  suffering  :  if  I  can,  I  will  make  it  clear  to  you  that  the 
events  by  which  you  think  that  I  am  overwhelmed,  are  not 
unendurable  :  if  you  cannot  believe  this,  I  at  any  rate  shall 
be  all  the  more  pleased  with  myself  for  being  happy  under 
circumstances  which  could  make  most  men  miserable. 
You  need  not  believe  what  others  say  about  me  :  that  you 
may  not  be  puzzled  by  any  uncertainty  as  to  what  to  think, 
I  distinctly  tell  you  that  I  am  not  miserable :  I  will  add, 
for  your  greater  comfort,  that  it  is  not  possible  for  me  to 
be  made  miserable. 

V.  We  are  born  to  a  comfortable  position  enough,  if  we 


324  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

do  not  afterwards  lose  it :  the  aim  of  Nature  has  been  to 
enable  us  to  live  well  without  needing  a  vast  apparatus  to 
enable  us  to  do  so  :  every  man  is  able  by  himself  to  make 
himself  happy.  External  circumstances  have  very  little 
importance  either  for  good  or  for  evil :  the  wise  man  is 
neither  elated  by  prosperity  nor  depressed  by  adversity ; 
for  he  has  always  endeavoured  to  depend  chiefly  upon 
himself  and  to  derive  all  his  joys  from  himself.  Do  I, 
then,  call  myself  a  wise  man  ?  far  from  it :  for  were  I  able 
to  profess  myself  wise,  I  should  not  only  say  that  I  was 
not  unhappy,  but  should  avow  myself  to  be  the  most 
fortunate  of  men,  and  to  be  raised  almost  to  the  level  of  a 
god  :  as  it  is,  I  have  applied  myself  to  the  society  of  wise 
men,  which  suffices  to  lighten  all  sorrows,  and,  not  being 
as  yet  able  to  rely  upon  my  own  strength,  I  have  betaken 
myself  for  refuge  to  the  camp  of  others,  of  those,  namely, 
who  can  easily  defend  both  themselves  and  their  friends. 
They  have  ordered  me  always  to  stand  as  it  were  on  guard, 
and  to  mark  the  attacks  and  charges  of  Fortune  long 
before  she  delivers  them  ;  she  is  only  terrible  to  those  whom 
she  catches  unawares ;  he  who  is  always  looking  out  for 
her  assault,  easily  sustains  it :  for  so  also  an  invasion  of 
the  enemy  overthrows  those  by  whom  it  is  unexpected, 
but  those  who  have  prepared  themselves  for  the  coming  war 
before  it  broke  out,  stand  in  their  ranks  fully  equipped 
and  repel  with  ease  the  first,  which  is  always  the  most 
furious  onset.  I  never  have  trusted  in  Fortune,  even  when 
she  seemed  most  peaceful.  I  have  accepted  all  the  gifts 
of  wealth,  high  office,  and  influence,  which  she  has  so 
bountifully  bestowed  upon  me,  in  such  a  manner  that  she 
can  take  them  back  again  without  disturbing  me :  I  have 
kept  a  great  distance  between  them  and  myself :  and  there- 
fore she  has  taken  them,  not  painfully  torn  them  away 
from  me.  No  man  loses  anything  by  the  frowns  of  Fortune 
unless  he  has  been  deceived  by  her  smiles  :  those  who  have 


CH.  VI.]  HELVIA.  325 

enjoyed  her  bounty  as  though  it  were  their  own  heritage 
for  ever,  and  who  have  chosen  to  take  precedence  of  others 
because  of  it,  lie  in  abject  sorrow  when  her  unreal  and 
fleeting  delights  forsake  their  empty  childish  minds,  that 
know  nothing  about  solid  pleasure :  but  he  who  has  not 
been  puffed  up  by  success,  does  not  collapse  after  failure  : 
he  possesses  a  mind  of  tried  constancy,  superior  to  the 
influences  of  either  state ;  for  even  in  the  midst  of  pros- 
perity he  has  experimented  upon  his  powers  of  enduring 
adversity.  Consequently  I  have  always  believed  that  there 
was  no  real  good  in  any  of  those  things  which  all  men 
desire  :  I  then  found  that  they  were  empty,  and  merely 
painted  over  with  artificial  and  deceitful  dyes,  without 
containing  anything  within  which  corresponds  to  their 
outside :  I  now  find  nothing  so  harsh  and  fearful  as  the 
common  opinion  of  mankind  threatened  me  with  in  this 
which  is  known  as  adversity :  the  word  itself,  owing  to  the 
prevalent  belief  and  ideas  current  about  it,  strikes  some- 
what unpleasantly  upon  one's  ears,  and  thrills  the  hearers 
as  something  dismal  and  accursed,  for  so  hath  the  vulgar 
decreed  that  it  should  be  :  but  a  great  many  of  the  decrees 
of  the  vulgar  are  reversed  by  the  wise. 

YI.  Setting  aside,  then,  the  verdict  of  the  majority,  who 
are  carried  away  by  the  first  appearance  of  things  and  the 
usual  opinion  about  them,  let  us  consider  what  is  meant  by 
exile :  clearly  a  changing  from  one  place  to  another.  That 
I  may  not  seem  to  be  narrowing  its  force,  and  taking 
away  its  worst  parts,  I  must  add,  that  this  changing  of 
place  is  accompanied  by  poverty,  disgrace,  and  contempt. 
Against  these  I  will  combat  later  on  :  meanwhile  I  wish  to 
consider  what  there  is  unpleasant  in  the  mere  act  of 
changing  one's  place  of  abode. 

"It  is  unbearable,"  men  say,  "  to  lose  one's  native  land." 
Look,  I  pray  you,  on  these  vast  crowds,  for  whom  all  the 
countless  roofs   of   Rome   can   scarcely  find   shelter:    the 


326  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

greater  part  of  those  crowds  have  lost  their  native  land : 
they  have  flocked  hither  from  their  country  towns  and 
colonies,  and  in  fine  from  all  parts  of  the  world.  Some 
have  been  bronght  by  ambition,  some  by  the  exigencies  of 
public  office,  some  by  being  entrusted  with  embassies,  some 
by  luxury  which  seeks  a  convenient  spot,  rich  in  vices, 
for  its  exercise,  some  by  their  wish  for  a  liberal  education, 
others  by  a  wish  to  see  the  public  shows.  Some  have  been 
led  hither  by  friendship,  some  by  industry,  which  finds  here 
a  wide  field  for  the  display  of  its  powers.  Some  have 
brought  their  beauty  for  sale,  some  their  eloquence :  people 
of  every  kind  assemble  themselves  together  in  Rome, 
which  sets  a  high  price  both  upon  virtues  and  vices. 
Bid  them  all  to  be  summoned  to  answer  to  their  names,  and 
ask  each  one  from  what  home  he  has  come  :  yoa  will  find 
that  the  greater  part  of  them  have  left  their  own  abodes, 
and  journeyed  to  a  city  which,  though  great  and  beauteous 
beyond  all  others,  is  nevertheless  not  their  own.  Then 
leave  this  city,  which  may  be  said  to  be  the  common  pro- 
perty of  all  men,  and  visit  all  other  towns :  there  is  not 
one  of  them  which  does  not  contain  a  large  proportion  of 
aliens.  Pass  away  from  those  whose  delightful  situation 
and  convenient  position  attracts  many  settlers  :  examine 
wildernesses  and  the  most  rugged  islands,  Sciathus  and 
Seriphus,  Gyarus  and  Corsica:  you  will  find  no  place  of 
exile  where  some  one  does  not  dwell  for  his  own  pleasure. 
What  can  be  found  barer  or  more  precipitous  on  every 
side  than  this  rock  ?  what  more  barren  in  respect  of  food  ? 
what  more  uncouth  in  its  inhabitants  ?  more  mountainous 
in  its  configuration  ?  or  more  rigorous  in  its  climate  ?  yet 
even  here  there  are  more  strangers  than  natives.  So  far, 
therefore,  is  the  mere  change  of  place  from  being  irksome, 
that  even  this  place  has  allured  some  away  from  their 
country.  I  find  some  writers  who  declare  that  mankind 
has  a  natural  itch  for  change  of  abode  and  alteration  of 


CH.  vil]  helvia.  327 

domicile  :  for  tlie  mind  of  man  is  wandering  and  nnqniet ; 
it  never  stands  still,  but  spreads  itself  abroad  and  sends 
forth  its  thoughts  into  all  regions,  known  or  unknown ; 
being  nomadic,  impatient  of  repose,  and  loving  novelty 
beyond  everything  else.  You  need  not  be  suprised  at  this, 
if  you  reflect  upon  its  original  source :  it  is  not  formed 
from  the  same  elements  as  the  heavy  and  earthly  body,  but 
from  heavenly  spirit :  now  heavenly  things  are  by  their 
nature  always  in  motion,  speeding  along  and  flying  with 
the  greatest  swiftness.  Look  at  the  luminaries  which  light 
the  world :  none  of  them  stands  still.  The  sun  is  perpetually 
in  motion,  and  passes  from  one  quarter  to  another,  and 
although  he  revolves  with  the  entire  heaven,  yet  neverthe- 
less he  has  a  motion  in  the  contrary  direction  to  that  of 
the  universe  itself,  and  passes  through  all  the  constellations 
without  remaining  in  any  :  his  wandering  is  incessant,  and 
he  never  ceases  to  move  from  place  to  place.  All  things 
continually  revolve  and  are  for  ever  changing  ;  they  pass 
from  one  position  to  another  in  accordance  with  natural 
and  unalterable  laws  :  after  they  have  completed  a  certain 
circuit  in  a  fixed  space  of  time,  they  begin  again  the  path 
which  they  had  previously  trodden.  Be  not  surprised, 
then,  if  the  human  mind,  which  is  formed  from  the  same 
seeds  as  the  heavenly  bodies,  delights  in  change  and 
wandering,  since  the  divine  nature  itself  either  takes 
pleasure  in  constant  and  exceeding  swift  motion  or  perhaps 
even  preserves  its  existence  thereby. 

VII.  Come  now,  turn  from  divine  to  human  affairs :  you 
will  see  that  whole  tribes  and  nations  have  changed  their 
abodes.  What  is  the  meaning  of  Greek  cities  in  the  midst 
of  barbarous  districts  ?  or  of  the  Macedonian  language 
existing  among  the  Indians  and  the  Persians  ?  Scythia 
and  all  that  region  which  swarms  with  wild  and  uncivilized 
tribes  boasts  nevertheless  Achaean  cities  along  the  shores 
of  the  Black  Scci.     Neither  the  rigours  of  eternal  winter, 


328  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [BK.  XI. 

nor  the  character  of  men  as  savage  as  their  climate,  has 
prevented  people  migrating  thither.  There  is  a  mass  of 
Athenians  in  Asia  Minor.  Miletus  has  sent  out  into  various 
parts  of  the  world  citizens  enough  to  populate  seventy-five 
cities.  That  whole  coast  of  Italy  which  is  washed  by  the 
Lower  Sea  is  a  part  of  what  once  was  "  Greater  Greece." 
Asia  claims  the  Tuscans  as  her  own:  there  are  Tyrians 
living  in  Africa,  Carthaginians  in  Spain ;  Greeks  have 
pushed  in  among  the  Gauls,  and  Gauls  among  the  Greeks. 
The  Pyrenees  have  proved  no  barrier  to  the  Germans  : 
human  caprice  makes  its  way  through  pathless  and  un- 
known regions  :  men  drag  along  with  them  their  children, 
their  wives,  and  their  aged  and  worn-out  parents.  Some 
have  been  tossed  hither  and  thither  by  long  wanderings, 
until  they  have  become  too  wearied  to  choose  an  abode, 
but  have  settled  in  whatever  place  was  nearest  to  them  : 
others  have  made  themselves  masters  of  foreign  countries 
by  force  of  arms :  some  nations  while  making  for  parts 
unknown  have  been  swallowed  up  by  the  sea :  some  have 
established  themselves  in  the  place  in  which  they  were 
originally  stranded  by  utter  destitution.  Nor  have  all 
men  had  the  same  reasons  for  leaving  their  country  and 
for  seeking  for  a  new  one  :  some  have  escaped  from  their 
cities  when  destroyed  by  hostile  armies,  and  having  lost 
their  own  lands  have  been  thrust  upon  those  of  others  : 
some  have  been  cast  out  by  domestic  quarrels :  some  have 
been  driven  forth  in  consequence  of  an  excess  of  population, 
in  order  to  relieve  the  pressure  at  home :  some  have  been 
forced  to  leave  by  pestilence,  or  frequent  earthquakes,  or  some 
unbearable  defects  of  a  barren  soil :  some  have  been  seduced 
by  the  fame  of  a  fertile  and  over- praised  clime.  Different 
people  have  been  led  away  from  their  homes  by  different 
causes  ;  but  in  all  cases  it  is  clear  that  nothing  remains  in 
the  same  place  in  which  it  was  born  :  the  movement  of  the 
human  race  is  perpetual :  in  this  vast  world  some  changes 


CH.  VII.]  HBLVIA.  329 

take  place  daily.  The  foundations  of  new  cities  are  laid, 
new  names  of  nations  arise,  while  the  former  ones  die  out, 
or  become  absorbed  by  more  powerf  al  ones.  And  yet  what 
else  are  all  these  general  migrations  but  the  banishments  of 
whole  peoples  ?  Why  should  I  lead  you  through  all  these 
details  ?  what  is  the  use  of  mentioning  Antenor  the  founder 
of  Padua,  or  Evander  who  established  his  kingdom  of 
Arcadian  settlers  on  the  banks  of  the  Tiber  ?  or  Diomedes 
and  the  other  heroes,  both  victors  and  vanquished,  whom 
the  Trojan  war  scattered  over  lands  which  were  not  their 
own  ?  It  is  a  fact  that  the  Roman  Empire  itself  traces  its 
origin  back  to  an  exile  as  its  founder,  who,  fleeing  from 
his  country  after  its  conquest,  with  what  few  relics  he  had 
saved  from  the  wreck,  had  been  brought  to  Italy  by  hard 
necessity  and  fear  of  his  conqueror,  which  bade  him  seek 
distant  lands.  Since  then,  how  many  colonies  has  this 
people  sent  forth  into  every  province  ?  wherever  the 
Roman  conquers,  there  he  dwells.  These  migrations  always 
found  people  eager  to  take  part  in  them,  and  veteran 
soldiers  desert  their  native  hearths  and  follow  the  flag  of 
the  colonists  across  the  sea.  The  matter  does  not  need 
illustrations  by  any  more  examples :  yet  I  will  add  one 
more  which  I  have  before  my  eyes  :  this  very  island  ^  has 
often  changed  its  inhabitants.  Not  to  mention  more  ancient 
events,  which  have  become  obscure  from  their  antiquity, 
the  Greeks  who  inhabit  Marseilles  at  the  present  day,  when 
they  left  Phocaea,  first  settled  here,  and  it  is  doubtful  what 
drove  them  hence,  whether  it  was  the  rigour  of  the  climate, 
the  sight  of  the  more  powerful  land  of  Italy,  or  the  want 
of  harbours  on  the  coast :  for  the  fact  of  their  having  placed 
themselves  in  the  midst  of  what  were  then  the  most  savage 
and  uncouth  tribes  of  Gaul  proves  that  they  were  not 
driven  hence  by  the  ferocity  of  the  natives.     Subsequently 

^  Corsica. 


330  MINOE   DIALOGUES,  [bK.  XI. 

the  Ligurians  came  over  into  this  same  island,  and  also  the 
Spaniards,^  which  is  proved  by  the  resemblance  of  their 
customs :  for  they  wear  the  same  head-coverings  and  the 
same  sort  of  shoes  as  the  Cantabrians,  and  some  of  their 
words  are  the  same :  for  by  association  with  Greeks  and 
Ligurians  they  have  entirely  lost  their  native  speech. 
Hither  since  then  have  been  brought  two  Roman  colonies, 
one  by  Marius,  the  other  by  Sulla  :  so  often  has  the  popu- 
lation of  this  barren  and  thorny  rock  been  changed.  In 
fine,  you  will  scarcely  find  any  land  which  is  still  in  the 
hands  of  its  original  inhabitants :  all  peoples  have  become 
confused  and  intermingled  :  one  has  come  after  another : 
one  has  wished  for  what  another  scorned  :  some  have  been 
driven  out  of  the  land  which  they  took  from  another.  Thus 
fate  has  decreed  that  nothing  should  ever  enjoy  an  unin- 
terrupted course  of  good  fortune. 

VIII.  Yarro,  that  most  learned  of  all  the  Romans,  thought 
that  for  the  mere  change  of  place,  apart  from  the  other 
evils  attendant  on  exile,  we  may  find  a  sufficient  remedy  in 
the  thought  that  wherever  we  go  we  always  have  the  same 
Nature  to  deal  with.  Marcus  Brutus  thought  that  there 
was  sufficient  comfort  in  the  thought  that  those  who  go 
into  exile  are  permitted  to  carry  their  virtues  thither  with 
them.  Though  one  might  think  that  neither  of  these  alone 
were  able  to  console  an  exile,  yet  it  must  be  confessed  that 
when  combined  they  have  great  power  :  for  how  very  little 
it  is  that  we  lose  !  whithersoever  we  betake  ourselves  two 
most  excellent  things  will  accompany  us,  namely,  a  common 
Nature  and  our  own  especial  virtue.  Believe  me,  this  is 
the  work  of  whoever  was  the  Creator  of  the  universe, 
whether  he  be  an  all-powerful  deity,  an  incorporeal  mind 
which  effects  vast  works,  a  divine  spirit  by  which  all  things 
from  the  greatest  to  the  smallest  are  equally  pervaded,  or 

^  Seneca  himself  was  of  Spanish  extraction. 


CH.  IX.]  HELYIA.  331 

fate  and  an  unalterable  connected  sequence  of  events,  this, 
I  say,  is  its  work,  that  nothing  above  the  very  lowest  can 
ever  fall  into  the  power  of  another :  all  that  is  best  for  a 
man's  enjoyment  lies  beyond  human  power,  and  can  neither 
be  bestowed  or  taken  away  :  this  world,  the  greatest  and 
the  most  beautiful  of  N^ature's  productions,  and  its  noblest 
part,  a  mind  which  can  behold  and  admire  it,  are  our  own 
property,  and  will  remain  with  us  as  long  as  we  ourselves 
endure.  Let  us  therefore  briskly  and  cheerfully  hasten  with 
undaunted  steps  whithersoever  circumstances  call  us :  let 
us  wander  over  whatever  countries  we  please ;  no  place 
of  banishment  can  be  found  in  the  whole  world  in  which 
man  cannot  find  a  home.  I  can  raise  my  eyes  from  the 
earth  to  the  sky  in  one  place  as  well  as  in  another  ;  the 
heavenly  bodies  are  everywhere  equally  near  to  mankind : 
accordingly,  as  long  as  my  eyes  are  not  deprived  of  that 
spectacle  of  which  they  never  can  have  their  fill,  as  long 
as  I  am  allowed  to  gaze  on  the  sun  and  moon,  to  dwell 
upon  the  other  stars,  to  speculate  upon  their  risings  and 
settings,  their  periods,  and  the  reasons  why  they  move 
faster  or  slower,  to  see  so  many  stars  glittering  throughout 
the  night,  some  fixed,  some  not  moving  in  a  wide  orbit 
but  revolving  in  their  own  proper  track,  some  suddenly 
diverging  from  it,  some  dazzling  our  eyes  by  a  fiery  blaze 
as  though  they  were  falling,  or  flying  along  drawing  after 
them  a  long  trail  of  brilliant  light :  while  I  am  permitted 
to  commune  with  these,  and  to  hold  intercourse,  as  far  as 
a  human  being  may,  with  all  the  company  of  heaven,  while 
I  can  raise  my  spirit  aloft  to  view  its  kindred  sparks  above, 
what  does  it  matter  upon  what  soil  I  tread  ? 

IX.  "  But  this  country  does  not  produce  beautiful  or  fruit- 
bearing  trees ;  it  is  not  watered  by  the  courses  of  large  or 
navigable  rivers ;  it  bears  nothing  which  other  nations 
would  covet,  since  its  produce  barely  suffices  to  support  its 
inhabitants :  no  precious  marbles  are  quarried  here,  no  veins 


332  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XL 

of  gold  and  silver  are  dug  out."  What  of  that !  It  must  be 
a  narrow  mind  that  takes  pleasure  in  things  of  the  earth  : 
it  ought  to  be  turned  away  from  them  to  the  contempla- 
tion of  those  which  can  be  seen  everywhere,  which  are 
equally  brilliant  everywhere  :  we  ought  to  reflect,  also,  that 
these  vulgar  matters  by  a  mistaken  perversion  of  ideas 
prevent  really  good  things  reaching  us :  the  further  men 
stretch  out  their  porticos,  the  higher  they  raise  their  towers, 
the  more  widely  they  extend  their  streets,  the  deeper  they 
sink  their  retreats  from  the  heats  of  summer,  the  more 
ponderous  the  roofs  with  which  they  cover  their  banqueting 
halls,  the  more  there  will  be  to  obstruct  their  view  of 
heaven.  Fortune  has  cast  you  into  a  country  in  which 
there  is  no  lodging  more  splendid  than  a  cottage :  you  must 
indeed  have  a  poor  spirit,  and  one  which  seeks  low  sources 
of  consolation,  if  you  endure  this  bravely  because  you  have 
seen  the  cottage  of  Romulus :  say,  rather,  "  Should  that 
lowly  barn  be  entered  by  the  virtues,  it  will  straightway 
become  more  beautiful  than  any  temple,  because  within  it 
will  be  seen  justice,  self-restraint,  prudence,  love,  a  right 
division  of  all  duties,  a  knowledge  of  all  things  on  earth 
and  in  heaven.  No  place  can  be  narrow,  if  it  contains  such 
a  company  of  the  greatest  virtues  ;  no  exile  can  be  irksome 
in  which  one  can  be  attended  by  these  companions.  Brutus, 
in  the  book  which  he  wrote  upon  virtue,  says  that  he  saw 
Marcellus  in  exile  at  Mytilene,  living  as  happily  as  it  is 
permitted  to  man  to  live,  and  never  keener  in  his  pursuit 
of  literature  than  at  that  time.  He  consequently  adds  the 
reflexion  :  '  I  seemed  rather  to  be  going  into  exile  myself 
when  I  had  to  return  without  him,  than  to  be  leaving  him 
in  exile.'  0  how  much  more  fortunate  was  Marcellus  at 
that  time,  when  Brutus  praised  him  for  his  exile,  than  when 
Rome  praised  him  for  his  consulship !  what  a  man  that 
must  have  been  who  made  any  one  think  himself  exiled 
because  he  was  leaving   him  in  exile !  what  a  man  that 


CH.  X.]  HELVIA.  333 

must  have  been  who  attracted  the  admiration  of  one  whom 
even  his  friend  Cato  admired  !  Brutus  goes  on  to  say : — 
*  Grains  Caesar  sailed  past  Mytilene  without  landing,  because 
he  could  not  bear  to  see  a  fallen  man.'  The  Senate  did 
indeed  obtain  his  recall  by  public  petition,  being  so  anxious 
and  sorrowful  the  while,  that  you  would  have  thought  that 
they  all  were  of  Brutus's  mind  that  day,  and  were  not 
pleading  the  cause  of  Marcellus,  but  their  own,  that  they 
might  not  be  sent  into  exile  by  being  deprived  of  him  : 
yet  he  gained  far  greater  glory  on  the  day  when  Brutus 
could  not  bear  to  leave  him  in  exile,  and  Caesar  could  not 
bear  to  see  him :  for  each  of  them  bore  witness  to  his 
worth  :  Brutus  grieved,  and  Caesar  blushed  at  going  home 
without  Marcellus.  Can  you  doubt  that  so  great  a  man 
as  Marcellus  frequently  encouraged  himself  to  endure  his 
exile  patiently  in  some  such  terms  as  these  :  "The  loss  of 
your  country  is  no  misery  to  you  :  you  have  so  steeped 
yourself  in  philosophic  lore,  as  to  know  that  all  the  world 
is  the  wise  man's  country  ?  What !  was  not  this  very  man 
who  banished  you  absent  from  his  country  for  ten  suc- 
cessive years  ?  he  was,  no  doubt,  engaged  in  the  extension 
of  the  empire,  but  for  all  that  he  was  absent  from  his 
country.  Now  see  how  his  presence  is  required  in  Africa, 
which  threatens  to  re-kindle  the  war,  in  Spain  which  is 
nursing  up  again  the  strength  of  the  broken  and  shattered 
opposite  faction,  in  treacherous  Egypt,  in  fine,  in  all  the  parts 
of  the  world,  for  all  are  watching  their  opportunity  to  seize 
the  empire  at  a  disadvantage.  Which  will  he  go  to  meet 
first?  which  part  of  the  universal  conspiracy  will  he  first 
oppose  ?  His  victory  will  drag  him  through  every  country 
in  the  world.  Let  nations  look  up  to  him  and  worship  him : 
do  thou  live  satisfied  with  the  admiration  of  Brutus." 

X.  Marcellus,  then,  nobly  endured  his  exile,  and  his 
change  of  place  made  no  change  in  his  mind,  even  though 
it  was  accompanied  by  poverty,  in  which  every  man  who 


334  MINOE    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

has  not  fallen  into  tbe  madness  of  avarice  and  luxury, 
which  upset  all  our  ideas,  sees  no  harm.  Indeed,  how  very 
little  is  required  to  keep  a  man  alive  ?  and  who,  that  has 
any  virtue  whatever,  will  find  this  fail  him  ?  As  for  myself, 
I  do  not  feel  that  I  have  lost  my  wealth,  but  my  occupa- 
tion :  the  wants  of  the  body  are  few :  it  wants  protection 
from  the  cold,  and  the  means  of  allaying  hunger  and  thirst : 
all  desires  beyond  these  are  vices,  not  necessities.  There  is 
no  need  for  prying  into  all  the  depths  of  the  sea,  for 
loading  one's  stomach  with  heaps  of  slaughtered  animals, 
or  for  tearing  up  shell-fish  ^  from  the  unknown  shore  of  the 
furthest  sea  :  may  the  gods  and  goddesses  bring  ruin  upon 
those  whose  luxury  transcends  the  bounds  of  an  empire 
which  is  already  perilously  wide.  They  want  to  have  their 
ostentatious  kitchens  supplied  with  game  from  the  other 
side  of  the  Phasis,  and  though  Rome  has  not  yet  obtained 
«atisfa,ction  from  the  Parthians,  they  are  not  ashamed  to 
•obtain  birds  from  them  :  they  bring  together  from  all 
regions  everything,  known  or  unknown,  to  tempt  their 
fastidious  palate :  food,  which  their  stomach,  worn  out 
with  delicacies,  can  scarcely  retain,  is  brought  from  the 
most  distant  ocean  :  they  vomit  that  they  may  eat,  and  eat 
that  they  may  vomit,  and  do  not  even  deign  to  digest  the 
"banquets  which  they  ransack  the  globe  to  obtain.  If  a 
man  despises  these  things,  what  harm  can  poverty  do  him  ? 
If  he  desires  them,  then  poverty  even  does  him  good,  for 
he  is  cured  in  spite  of  himself,  and  though  he  will  not  receive 
remedies  even  upon  compulsion,  yet  while  he  is  unable  to 
fulfil  his  wishes  he  is  as  though  he  had  them  not.  Gains 
Caesar,  whom  in  my  opinion  Nature  produced  in  order  to 
show  what  unlimited  vice  would  be  capable  of  when 
combined  with  unlimited  power,  dined  one  day  at  a  cost  of 
ten  millions  of  sesterces  :  and  though  in  this  he  had  the 

^  Qu.,  oysters  from  Britain. 


CH.  X.]  HELVIA.  335 

assistance  of  the  intelligence  of  all  his  subjects,  yet  he 
could  hardly  find  how  to  make  one  dinner  out  of  the  tribute- 
money  of  three  provinces.  How  unhappy  are  they  whose 
appetite  can  only  be  aroused  by  costly  food  !  and  the 
costliness  of  food  depends  not  upon  its  delightful  flavour 
and  sweetness  of  taste,  but  upon  its  rarity  and  the 
difficulty  of  procuring  it :  otherwise,  if  they  chose  to 
return  to  their  sound  senses,  what  need  would  they  have 
of  so  many  arts  which  minister  to  the  stomach  ?  of 
so  great  a  commerce  ?  of  such  ravaging  of  forests  ?  of 
such  ransacking  of  the  depths  of  the  sea?  Food  is  to 
be  found  everywhere,  and  has  been  placed  by  Nature  in 
every  part  the  world,  but  they  pass  it  by  as  though  they 
were  blind,  and  wander  through  all  countries,  cross  the 
seas,  and  excite  at  a  great  cost  the  hunger  which  they 
might  allay  at  a  small  one.  One  would  like  to  say :  Why 
do  you  launch  ships  ?  why  do  you  arm  your  hands  for  battle 
both  with  men  and  wild  beasts  ?  why  do  you  run  so 
riotously  hither  and  thither  ?  why  do  you  amass  fortune 
after  fortune  ?  Are  you  unwilling  to  remember  how  small 
our  bodies  are  ?  is  it  not  frenzy  and  the  wildest  insanity  to 
wish  for  so  much  when  you  can  contain  so  little  ?  Though 
you  may  increase  your  income,  and  extend  the  boundaries 
of  your  property,  yet  you  never  can  enlarge  your  own 
bodies :  when  your  business  transactions  have  turned  out 
well,  when  you  have  made  a  successful  campaign,  when  you 
have  collected  the  food  for  which  you  have  hunted  through 
all  lands,  you  will  have  no  place  in  which  to  bestow  all  these 
superfluities.  Why  do  you  strive  to  obtain  so  much  ?  Do 
you  think  that  our  ancestors,  whose  virtue  supports  our 
vices  even  to  the  present  day,  were  unhappy,  though  they 
dressed  their  food  with  their  own  hands,  though  the  earth 
was  their  bed,  though  their  roofs  did  not  yet  glitter  with 
gold,  nor  their  temples  with  precious  stones  ?  and  so  they 
used  then  to  swear  with  scrupulous  honesty  by  earthenware 


336  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

gods ;  those  who  called  these  gods  to  witness  would  go  back 
to  the  enemy  for  certain  death  rather  than  break  their  word.^ 
Do  yon  suppose  that  our  dictator  who  granted  an  audience 
to  the  ambassadors  of  the  Samnites,  while  he  roasted 
the  commonest  food  before  the  fire  himself  with  that  very 
hand  with  which  he  had  so  often  smitten  the  enemy,  and 
with  which  he  had  placed  his  lanrel  wreath  upon  the  lap 
of  Capitolian  Jove,  enjoyed  life  less  than  the  Apicius  who 
lived  in  our  own  days,  whose  habits  tainted  the  entire 
century,  who  set  himself  up  as  a  professor  of  gastronomy 
in  that  very  city  from  which  philosophers  once  were 
banished  as  corrupters  of  yonth  ?  It  is  worth  while  to  know 
his  end.  After  he  had  spent  a  hundred  millions  of  sesterces 
on  his  kitchen,  and  had  wasted  on  each  single  banquet  a 
sum  equal  to  so  many  presents  from  the  reigning  emperors, 
and  the  vast  revenue  which  he  drew  from  the  Capitol, 
being  overburdened  with  debt,  he  then  for  the  first  time  was 
forced  to  examine  his  accounts  :  he  calculated  that  he  would 
have  ten  millions  left  of  his  fortune,  and,  as  though  he  would 
live  a  life  of  mere  starvation  on  ten  millions,  put  an  end  to 
his  life  by  poison.  How  great  must  the  luxury  of  that  man 
have  been,  to  whom  ten  millions  signified  want  ?  Can  yon 
think  after  this  that  the  amount  of  money  necessary  to  make 
a  fortune  depends  upon  its  actual  extent  rather  than  on  the 
mind  of  the  owner  ?  Here  was  a  man  who  shuddered  at 
the  thought  of  a  fortune  of  ten  million  sesterces,  and  escaped 
by  poison  from  a  prospect  which  other  men  pray  for.  Yet, 
for  a  mind  so  diseased,  that  last  draught  of  his  was  the  most 
wholesome  :  he  was  really  eating  and  drinking  poisons 
when  he  was  not  only  enjoying,  but  boasting  of  his 
enormous  banquets,  when  he  was  flaunting  his  vices,  when 
he  was  causing  his  country  to  follow  his  example,  when  he 
was  inviting  youths  to  imitate  him,  albeit  youth  is  quick 

^  The  allusion  is  evidently  to  Regulus. 


CH.  XI.]  HELVIA.  337 

to  learn  evil,  without  being  provided  with  a  model  to  copy. 
This  is  what  befalls  those  who  do  not  use  their  wealth 
according  to  reason,  which  has  fixed  limits,  but  according 
to  vicious  fashion,  whose  caprices  are  boundless  and  im- 
measurable. Nothing  is  sufficient  for  covetous  desire,  but 
Kature  can  be  satisfied  even  with  scant  measure.  The 
poverty  of  an  exile,  therefore,  causes  no  inconvenience,  for 
no  place  of  exile  is  so  barren  as  not  to  produce  what  is 
abundantly  sufficient  to  support  a  man. 

XI.  Next,  need  an  exile  regret  his  former  dress  and 
house  ?  If  he  only  wishes  for  these  things  because  of  their 
use  to  him,  he  will  want  neither  roof  nor  garment,  for  it 
takes  as  little  to  cover  the  body  as  it  does  to  feed  it :  Nature 
has  annexed  no  difficult  conditions  to  anything  which  man 
is  obliged  to  do.  If,  however,  he  sighs  for  a  purple  robe 
steeped  in  floods  of  dye,  interwoven  with  threads  of  gold 
and  with  many  coloured  artistic  embroideries,  then  his 
poverty  is  his  own  fault,  not  that  of  Fortune  :  even  though 
you  restored  to  him  all  that  he  has  lost,  you  would  do  him 
no  good ;  for  he  would  have  more  unsatisfied  ambitions,  if 
restored,  than  he  had  unsatisfied  wants  when  he  was  an 
exile.  If  he  longs  for  furniture  glittering  with  silver  vases, 
plate  which  boasts  the  signature  of  antique  artists,  bronze 
which  the  mania  of  a  small  clique  has  rendered  costly, 
slaves  enough  to  crowd  however  large  a  house,  purposely 
overfed  horses,  and  precious  stones  of  all  countries  :  what- 
ever collections  he  may  make  of  these,  he  never  will  satisfy 
bis  insatiable  appetite,  any  more  than  any  amount  of  liquor 
will  quench  a  thirst  which  arises  not  from  the  need  of  drink 
but  from  the  burning  heat  within  a  man ;  for  this  is  not 
thirst  but  disease.  Nor  does  this  take  place  only  with 
i^,  regard  to  money  and  food,  but  every  want  which  is  caused  by 
vice  and  not  by  necessity  is  of  this  nature  :  however  much 
you  supply  it  with  you  do  not  quench  it  but  intensify  it. 
He  who  restrains  himself  within  the  limits  prescribed  by 


338  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

nature,  will  not  feel  poverty;  he  who  exceeds  them  will 
always  be  poor,  however  great  his  wealth  may  be.  Even 
a  place  of  exile  suffices  to  provide  one  with  necessaries  ; 
whole  kingdoms  do  not  suffice  to  provide  one  with  super- 
fluities. It  is  the  mind  which  makes  men  rich  :  this  it  is 
that  accompanies  them  into  exile,  and  in  the  most  savage 
wildernesses,  after  having  found  sufficient  sustenance  for 
the  body,  enjoys  its  own  overflowing  resources :  the  mind 
has  no  more  connexion  with  money  than  the  immortal 
gods  have  with  those  things  which  are  so  highly  valued  by 
Untutored  intellects,  sunk  in  the  bondage  of  the  flesh. 
Gems,  gold,  silver,  and  vast  polished  round  tables  are  but 
earthly  dross,  which  cannot  be  loved  by  a  pure  mind  that 
is  mindful  of  whence  it  came,  is  unblemished  by  sin,  and 
which,  when  released  from  the  body,  will  straightway  soar 
aloft  to  the  highest  heaven  :  meanwhile,  as  far  as  it  is  per- 
mitted by  the  hindrances  of  its  mortal  limbs  and  this  heavy 
clog  of  the  body  by  which  it  is  surrounded,  it  examines 
divine  things  with  swift  and  airy  thought.  From  this  it 
follows  that  no  free-born  man,  who  is  akin  to  the  gods,  and 
fit  for  any  world  and  any  age,  can  ever  be  in  exile  :  for  his 
thoughts  are  directed  to  all  the  heavens  and  to  all  times 
past  and  future  :  this  trumpery  body,  the  prison  and  fetter 
of  the  spirit,  may  be  tossed  to  this  place  or  to  that ;  upon 
it  tortures,  robberies,  and  diseases  may  work  their  will : 
but  the  spirit  itself  is  holy  and  eternal,  and  upon  it  no  one 
can  lay  hands. 

XII.  That  you  may  not  suppose  that  I  merely  use  the 
tnaxims  of  the  philosophers  to  disparage  the  evils  of  poverty, 
which  no  one  finds  terrible,  unless  he  thinks  it  so ;  consider  in 
the  first  place  how  many  more  poor  people  there  are  than 
rich,  and  yet  you  will  not  find  that  they  are  sadder  or  more 
anxious  than  the  rich  :  nay,  I  am  not  sure  that  they  are 
not  happier,  because  they  have  fewer  things  to  distract 
their  minds.     From  these  poor  men,   who  often  are  not 


CH.  XII.]  HELYIA.  339 

unhappy  at  their  poverty,  let  us  pass  to  the  rich.  How  many 
occasions  there  are  on  which  they  are  just  like  poor  men ! 
When  they  are  on  a  journey  their  baggage  is  cut  down, 
whenever  they  are  obliged  to  travel  fast  their  train  of 
attendants  is  dismissed.  When  they  are  serving  in  the 
army,  how  small  a  part  of  their  property  can  they  have 
with  them,  since  camp  discipline  forbids  superfluities !  Nor 
is  it  only  temporary  exigences  or  desert  places  that  put 
them  on  the  same  level  as  poor  men :  they  have  some  days 
on  which  they  become  sick  of  their  riches,  dine  reclining 
on  the  ground,  put  away  all  their  gold  and  silver  plate, 
and  use  earthenware.  Madmen !  they  are  always  afraid 
of  this  for  which  they  sometimes  wish.  0  how  dense  a 
stupidity,  how  great  an  ignorance  of  the  truth  they  show 
when  they  flee  from  this  thing  and  yet  amuse  them- 
selves by  playing  with  it !  Whenever  I  look  back  to  the 
great  examples  of  antiquity,  I  feel  ashamed  to  seek  conso- 
lation for  my  poverty,  now  that  luxury  has  advanced  so 
far  in  the  present  age,  that  the  allowance  of  an  exile  is 
larger  than  the  inheritance  of  the  princes  of  old.  It  is 
well  known  that  Homer  had  one  slave,  that  Plato  had 
three,  and  that  Zeno,  who  first  taught  the  stern  and  mas- 
culine doctrine  of  the  Stoics,  had  none  :  yet  could  any 
one  say  that  they  lived  wretchedly  without  himself  being 
thought  a  most  pitiable  wretch  by  all  men  ?  Menenius 
Agrippa,  by  whose  mediation  the  patricians  and  plebeians 
were  reconciled,  was  buried  by  public  subscription.  Attilius 
Regulus,  while  he  was  engaged  in  scattering  the  Cartha- 
ginians in  Africa,  wrote  to  the  Senate  that  his  hired  servant 
had  left  him,  and  that  consequently  his  farm  was  deserted : 
whereupon  it  was  decreed  that  as  long  as  E-egulus  was 
absent,  it  should  be  cultivated  at  the  expense  of  the  state. 
Was  it  not  worth  his  while  to  have  no  slave,  if  thereby  he 
obtained  the  Roman  people  for  his  farm-bailiff  ?  Scipio's 
daughters  received  their  dowries  from  the  Treasury,  because 


340  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  XI. 

their  father  had  left  them  none  :  by  Hercules,  it  was  right 
for  the  EiOman  people  to  pay  tribute  to  Scipio  for  once, 
since  he  had  exacted  it  for  ever  from  Carthage.  0  how 
happy  were  those  girls'  husbands,  who  had  the  Roman 
people  for  their  father-in-law.  Can  you  think  that  those 
whose  daughters  dance  in  the  ballet,  and  marry  with  a 
settlement  of  a  million  sesterces,  are  happier  than  Scipio, 
whose  children  received  their  dowry  of  old-fashioned  brass 
money  from  their  guardian  the  Senate?  Can  any  one 
despise  poverty,  when  she  has  such  a  noble  descent  to  boast 
of  ?  can  an  exile  be  angry  at  any  privation,  when  Scipio 
could  not  afford  a  portion  for  his  daughters,  Regulus  could 
not  afford  a  hired  labourer,  Menenius  could  not  afford  a 
funeral?  when  all  these  men's  wants  were  supplied  in  a 
manner  which  rendered  them  a  source  of  additional  honour  ? 
Poverty,  when  such  men  as  these  plead  its  cause,  is  not  only 
harmless,  but  positively  attractive. 

XIII.  To  this  one  may  answer:  "Why  do  you  thus 
ingeniously  divide  what  can  indeed  be  endured  if  taken 
singly,  but  which  all  together  are  overwhelming  ?  Change 
of  place  can  be  borne  if  nothing  more  than  one's  place  be 
changed :  poverty  can  be  borne  if  it  be  without  disgrace, 
which  is  enough  to  cow  our  spirits  by  itself."  If  any  one 
were  to  endeavour  to  frighten  me  with  the  number  of  my 
misfortunes,  I  should  answer  him  as  follows  :  If  you  have 
enough  strength  to  resist  any  one  part  of  your  ill-fortune, 
you  will  have  enough  to  resist  it  all.  If  virtue  has  once 
hardened  your  mind,  it  renders  it  impervious  to  blows 
from  any  quarter:  if  avarice,  that  greatest  pest  of  the 
human  race,  has  left  it,  you  will  not  be  troubled  by  ambi- 
tion :  if  you  regard  the  end  of  your  days  not  as  a  punish- 
ment, but  as  an  ordinance  of  nature,  no  fear  of  anything 
else  will  dare  to  enter  the  breast  which  has  cast  out  the 
fear  of  death.  If  you  consider  sexual  passion  to  have  been 
bestowed  on  mankind  not  for  the  sake  of  pleasure,  but  for 


CH.  XIII.]  HELViA..  341 

the  contimiance  of  the  race,  all  other  desires  will  pass 
harmlessly  by  one  who  is  safe  even  from  this  secret  plague, 
implanted  in  onr  very  bosoms.  Reason  does  not  conquer 
vices  one  by  one,  but  all  together  :  if  reason  is  defeated,  it  is 
utterly  defeated  once  for  all.  Do  you  suppose  that  any  wise 
man,  who  relies  entirely  upon  himself,  who  has  set  himself 
free  from  the  ideas  of  the  common  herd,  can  be  wrought 
upon  by  disgrace  ?  A  disgraceful  death  is  worse  even  than 
disgrace  :  yet  Socrates  bore  the  same  expression  of  coun- 
tenance with  which  he  had  rebuked  thirty  tyrants,  when 
he  entered  the  prison  and  thereby  took  away  the  infamous 
character  of  the  place;  for  the  place  which  contained 
Socrates  could  not  be  regarded  as  a  prison.  Was  any  one 
ever  so  blind  to  the  truth  as  to  suppose  that  Marcus  Cato 
was  disgraced  by  his  double  defeat  in  his  candidature  for 
the  praetorship  and  the  consulship?  that  disgrace  fell  on 
the  praetorship  and  consulship  which  Cato  honoured 
by  his  candidature.  No  one  is  despised  by  others  un- 
less he  be  previously  despised  by  himself :  a  grovelling 
and  abject  mind  may  fall  an  easy  prey  to  such  con- 
tempt :  but  he  who  stands  up  against  the  most  cruel 
misfortunes,  and  overcomes  those  evils  by  which  others 
would  have  been  crushed — such  a  man,  I  say,  turns  his 
misfortunes  into  badges  of  honour,  because  we  are  so  con- 
stituted as  to  admire  nothing  so  much  as  a  man  who  bears 
adversity  bravely.  At  Athens,  when  Aristides  was  being 
led  to  execution,  every  one  who  met  him  cast  down  his 
eyes  and  groaned,  as  though  not  merely  a  just  man  but 
justice  herself  was  being  put  to  death.  Yet  one  man  was 
found  who  spat  in  his  face  :  he  might  have  been  disturbed 
at  this,  since  he  knew  it  could  only  be  a  foul-mouthed 
fellow  that  would  have  the  heart  to  do  so ;  he,  however, 
wiped  his  face,  and  with  a  smile  asked  the  magistrate  who 
accompanied  him  to  warn  that  man  not  to  open  his  mouth 
so  rudely  again.     To  act  thus  was  to  treat  contumely  itself 


342  MIXOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

with  contempt.  I  know  that  some  say  that  there  is 
nothing  more  terrible  than  disgrace,  and  that  they  wonld 
prefer  death.  To  such  men  I  answer  that  even  exile  is 
often  accompanied  by  no  disgrace  whatever :  if  a  great 
man  falls,  he  remains  a  great  man  after  his  fall,  you  can 
no  more  suppose  that  he  is  disgraced  than  when  people 
tread  upon  the  walls  of  a  ruined  temple,  which  the  pious 
treat  with  as  much  respect  as  when  they  were  standing. 

XIV.  Since,  then,  my  dearest  mother,  you  have  no  reason 
for  endless  weeping  on  my  account,  it  follows  that  your 
tears  must  flow  on  your  own :  there  are  two  causes  for  this, 
either  your  having  lost  my  protection,  or  your  not  being 
able  to  bear  the  mere  fact  of  separation.  The  first  of  these 
I  shall  only  touch  upon  lightly,  for  I  know  that  your  heart 
loves  nothing  belonging  to  your  children  except  themselves. 
Let  other  mothers  look  to  that,  who  make  use  of  their  sons' 
authority  with  a  woman's  passion,  who  are  ambitious  through 
their  sons  because  they  cannot  bear  office  themselves,  who 
spend  their  sons'  inheritance,  and  yet  are  eager  to  inherit  it, 
and  who  weary  their  sons  by  lending  their  eloquence  to 
others :  you  have  always  rejoiced  exceedingly  in  the  successes 
of  your  sons,  and  have  made  no  use  of  them  whatever :  you 
have  always  set  bounds  to  our  generosity,  although  you  set 
none  to  your  own :  you,  while  a  minor  under  the  power  of 
the  head  of  the  family,  still  used  to  make  presents  to  your 
wealthy  sons  :  you  managed  our  inheritances  with  as  much 
care  as  if  you  were  working  for  your  own,  yet  refrained 
from  touching  them  as  scrupulously  as  if  they  belonged  to 
strangers  :  you  have  spared  to  use  our  influence,  as  though 
you  enjoyed  other  means  of  your  own,  and  you  have  taken 
no  part  in  the  public  offices  to  which  we  have  been  elected 
beyond  rejoicing  in  our  success  and  paying  our  expenses  : 
your  indulgence  has  never  been  tainted  by  any  thought  of 
profit,  and  you  cannot  regret  the  loss  of  your  son  for  a  reason 
which  never  had  any  weight  with  you  before  his  exile. 


CH.  XV.]  HELYIA.  343 

XV.  All  my  powers  of  consolation  must  be  directed  to 
the  other  point,  the  true  source  of  your  maternal  grief. 
You  say,  "  I  am  deprived  of  the  embraces  of  my  darling 
son,  I  cannot  enjoy  the  pleasure  of  seeing  him  and  of  hearing 
him  talk.  Where  is  he  at  whose  sight  I  used  to  smooth 
my  troubled  brow,  in  whose  keeping  I  used  to  deposit  all 
my  cares  ?  Where  is  his  conversation,  of  which  I  never 
could  have  enough  ?  his  studies,  in  which  I  used  to  take 
part  with  more  than  a  woman's  eagerness,  with  more  than 
a  mother's  familiarity?  Where  are  our  meetings?  the 
boyish  delight  which  he  always  showed  at  the  sight  of  his 
mother  ?  "  To  all  this  you  add  the  actual  places  of  our 
merrymakings  and  conversation,  and,  what  must  needs 
have  more  power  to  move  you  than  anything  else,  the 
traces  of  our  lat«  social  life,  for  Fortune  treated  you  with 
the  additional  cruelty  of  allowing  you  to  depart  on  the 
very  third  day  before  my  ruin,  without  a  trace  of  anxiety, 
and  not  fearing  anything  of  the  kind.  It  was  well  that  we 
had  been  separated  by  a  vast  distance :  it  was  well  that 
an  absence  of  some  years  had  prepared  jou.  to  bear  this 
blow :  you  came  home,  not  to  take  any  pleasure  in  your 
son,  but  to  get  rid  of  the  habit  of  longing  for  him.  Had 
you  been  absent  long  before,  you  would  have  borne  it  more 
bravely,  as  the  very  length  of  your  absence  would  have 
moderated  your  longing  to  see  me :  had  you  never  gone 
away,  you  would  at  any  rate  have  gained  one  last  advantage 
in  seeing  your  son  for  two  days  longer  :  as  it  was,  cruel 
Tate  so  arranged  it  that  you  were  not  present  with  me  during 
my  good  fortune,  and  yet  have  not  become  accustomed  to 
my  absence.  But  the  harder  these  things  are  to  bear,  the 
more  virtue  you  must  summon  to  your  aid,  and  the  more 
bravely  you  must  struggle  as  it  were  with  an  enemy  whom 
you  know  well,  and  whom  you  have  already  often  conquered. 
This  blood  did  not  flow  from  a  body  previously  unhurt : 
you  have  been  struck  through  the  scar  of  an  old  wound. 


344  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [BK.  XI. 

XVI.  You  have  no  grounds  for  excusing  yourself  on  the 
ground  of  being  a  woman,  who  has  a  sort  of  right  to  weep 
without  restraint,  though  not  without  limit.  For  this  reason 
our  ancestors  allotted  a  space  of  ten  months'  mourning  for 
women  who  had  lost  their  husbands,  thus  settling  the 
violence  of  a  woman's  grief  by  a  public  ordinance.  They 
did  not  forbid  them  to  mourn,  but  they  set  limits  to  their 
grief  :  for  while  it  is  a  foolish  weakness  to  give  way  to 
endless  grief  when  you  lose  one  of  those  dearest  to  you, 
yet  it  shows  an  unnatural  hardness  of  heart  to  express  no 
grief  at  all :  the  best  middle  course  between  affection  and 
hard  common  sense  is  both  to  feel  regret  and  to  restrain 
it.  You  need  not  look  at  certain  women  whose  sorrow, 
when  once  begun,  has  been  ended  only  by  death:  you 
know  some  who  after  the  loss  of  their  sons  have  never 
laid  aside  the  garb  of  mourning  :  you  are  constitutionally 
stronger  than  these,  and  from  you  more  is  required.  You 
cannot  avail  yourself  of  the  excuse  of  being  a  woman,  for 
you  have  no  womanish  vices.  Unchastity,  the  greatest 
evil  of  the  age,  has  never  classed  you  with  the  majority  of 
women  ;  you  have  not  been  tempted  either  by  gems  or  by 
pearls ;  riches  have  not  allured  you  into  thinking  them  the 
greatest  blessing  that  man  can  own ;  respectably  brought 
up  as  you  were  in  an  old-fashioned  and  strict  household, 
you  have  never  been  led  astray  by  that  imitation  of  others 
which  is  so  full  of  danger  even  to  virtuous  women.  You 
have  never  been  ashamed  of  your  fruitfulness  as  though  it 
were  a  reproach  to  your  youth  :  you  never  concealed  the 
signs  of  pregnancy  as  though  it  were  an  unbecoming 
burden,  nor  did  you  ever  destroy  your  expected  child  within 
your  womb  after  the  fashion  of  many  other  women,  whose 
attractions  are  to  be  found  in  their  beauty  alone.  You 
never  defiled  your  face  with  paints  or  cosmetics  :  you  never 
liked  clothes  which  showed  the  figure  as  plainly  as  though 
it  were  naked  :  your  sole  ornament  has  been  a  consummate 


CH.  xyl]  helyia.  345 

loveliness  which  no  time  can  impair,  your  greatest  glory 
has  been  your  modesty.  You  cannot,  therefore,  plead  your 
womanhood  as  an  excuse  for  your  grief,  because  your 
virtues  have  raised  you  above  it :  you  ought  to  be  as 
superior  to  womanish  tears  as  you  are  to  womanish  vices. 
Even  women  would  not  allow  you  to  pine  away  after  re- 
ceiving this  blow,  but  would  bid  you  quickly  and  calmly 
go  through  the  necessary  amount  of  mourning,  and  then  to 
arise  and  shake  it  off  :  I  mean,  if  you  are  willing  to  take  as 
your  models  those  women  whose  eminent  virtue  has  given 
them  a  place  among  even  great  men.  Misfortune  reduced 
the  number  of  Cornelia's  children  from  twelve  to  two  :  if 
you  count  the  number  of  their  deaths,  Cornelia  had  lost 
ten  :  if  you  weigh  them,  she  had  lost  the  Gracchi :  never- 
theless, when  her  friends  were  weeping  around  her  and 
using  too  bitter  imprecations  against  her  fate,  she  forbade 
them  to  blame  fortune  for  having  deprived  ^  her  of  her  sons 
the  Grracchi.  Such  ought  to  have  been  the  mother  of  him 
who,  when  speaking  in  the  Forum,  said,  "  Would  you  speak 
evil  of  the  mother  who  bore  me  ?  "  The  mother's  speech 
seems  to  me  to  show  a  far  greater  spirit :  the  son  set  a  high 
value  on  the  birth  of  the  Gracchi ;  the  mother  set  an  equal 
value  on  their  deaths.  Rutilia  followed  her  son  Cotta  into 
exile,  and  was  so  passionately  attached  to  him  that  she 
could  bear  exile  better  than  absence  from  him  ;  nor  did  she 
return  home  before  her  son  did  so  :  after  he  had  been 
restored,  and  had  been  raised  to  honour  in  the  republic, 
she  bore  his  death  as  bravely  as  she  had  borne  his  exile. 
No  one  saw  any  traces  of  tears  upon  her  cheeks  after  she 
had  buried  her  son :  she  displayed  her  courage  when  he 
was  banished,  her  wisdom  when  he  died :  she  allowed  no 

^  I  think Madvig'sademisset  spoils  the  sense.  Dedissei mesins  :  '-when 
you  bid  me  mourn  the  loss  of  the  Gracchi  you  bid  me  blame  fortune 
for  having  given  me  such  sons."  "  'Tis  better  to  have  loved  and  lost 
than  to  have  never  loved  at  all," — J.  E,  B.  M. 


346  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

considerations  either  to  interfere  with  her  affection,  or  to 
force  her  to  protract  a  useless  and  foolish  mourning.  These 
are  the  women  with  whom  I  wish  you  to  be  numbered : 
you  have  the  best  reasons  for  restraining  and  suppressing 
your  sorrow  as  they  did,  because  you  have  always  imitated 
their  lives. 

XYII.  I  am  aware  that  this  is  a  matter  which  is  not 
in  our  power,  and  that  none  of  the  passions,  least  of 
all  that  which  arises  from  grief,  are  obedient  to  our 
wishes;  indeed,  it  is  overbearing  and  obstinate,  and  stub- 
bornly rejects  all  remedies :  we  sometimes  wish  to  crush 
it,  and  to  swallow  our  emotion,  but,  nevertheless,  tears  flow 
over  our  carefully  arranged  and  made-up  countenance. 
Sometimes  we  occupy  our  minds  with  public  spectacles 
and  shows  of  gladiators ;  but  during  the  very  sights 
by  which  it  is  amused,  the  mind  is  wrung  by  slight 
touches  of  sorrow.  It  is  better,  therefore,  to  conquer  it 
than  to  cheat  it ;  for  a  grief  which  has  been  deceived  and 
driven  away  either  by  pleasure  or  by  business  rises  again, 
and  its  period  of  rest  does  but  give  it  strength  for  a  more 
terrible  attack  ;  but  a  grief  which  has  been  conquered  by 
reason  is  appeased  for  ever.  I  shall  not,  then,  give  you  the 
advice  which  so  many,  I  know,  adopt,  that  jou.  should 
distract  your  thoughts  by  a  long  journey,  or  amuse  them 
by  a  beautiful  one ;  that  you  should  spend  much  of  your 
time  in  the  careful  examination  of  accounts,  and  the 
management  of  your  estate,  and  that  you  should  keep  con- 
stantly engaging  in  new  enterprises  :  all  these  things  avail 
but  little,  and  do  not  cure,  but  merely  obstruct  our  sorrow. 
I  had  rather  it  should  be  brought  to  an  end  than  that  it 
should  be  cheated  :  and,  therefore,  I  would  fain  lead  you 
to  the  study  of  philosophy,  the  true  place  of  refuge  for  all 
those  who  are  flying  from  the  cruelty  of  Fortune:  this  will 
heal  your  wounds  and  take  away  all  your  sadness :  to  this 
you  would  now  have  to  apply  yourself,  even  though  you 


CH.  XTIII.]  HELVIA.  347 

had  never  done  so  before ;  but  as  far  as  my  father's  old- 
fashioned  strictness  permitted,  you  have  gained  a  snper- 
ficial,  though  not  a  thorough  knowledge  of  all  liberal  studies. 
Would  that  my  father,  most  excellent  man  that  he  was, 
had  been  less  devoted  to  the  customs  of  our  ancestors,  and 
had  been  willing  to  have  you  thoroughly  instructed  in  the 
elements  of  philosophy,  instead  of  receiving  a  mere  smat- 
tering of  it !  I  should  not  now  need  to  be  providing  you 
with  the  means  of  struggling  against  Fortxine,  but  you 
would  oifer  them  to  me :  but  he  did  not  allow  you  to  pursue 
your  studies  far,  because  some  women  use  literature  to 
teach  them  luxury  instead  of  wisdom.  Still,  thanks  to  your 
keen  intellectual  appetite,  you  learned  more  than  one  could 
have  expected  in  the  time  :  you  laid  the  foundations  of  all 
good  learning  :  now  return  to  them  :  they  will  render  you 
safe,  they  will  console  you,  and  charm  you.  If  once  they 
have  thoroughly  entered  into  your  mind,  grief,  anxiety, 
the  distress  of  vain  suffering  will  never  gain  admittance 
thither  :  your  breast  will  not  be  open  to  any  of  these ; 
against  all  other  vices  it  has  long  been  closed.  Philosophy 
is  your  most  trustworthy  guardian,  and  it  alone  can  save 
you  from  the  attacks  of  Fortune. 

XVIII.  Since,  however,  you  require  something  to  lean 
upon  until  you  can  reach  that  haven  of  rest  which 
philosophy  offers  to  you,  I  wish  in  the  meantime  to  point 
•  out  to  you  the  consolations  which  you  have.  Look  at  my 
two  brothers — while  they  are  safe,  you  have  no  grounds 
for  complaint  against  Fortune  ;  you  can  derive  pleasure 
from  the  virtues  of  each  of  them,  different  as  they  are ;  the 
one  has  gained  high  office  by  attention  to  business,  the 
other  has  philosophically  despised  it.  Rejoice  in  the  great 
place  of  one  of  your  sons,  in  the  peaceful  retirement 
of  the  other,  in  the  fih'al  affection  of  both.  I  know 
my  brothers'  most  secret  motives  :  the  one  adorns  his 
high    office     in    order    to    confer    lustre    upon    you,    the 


348  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

otlier  has  withdrawn  from  the  world  into  his  life  of 
quiet  and  contemplation,  that  he  may  have  full  enjoyment 
of  your  society.  Fortune  has  consulted  both  your  safety 
and  your  pleasure  in  her  disposal  of  your  two  sons  :  you 
may  be  protected  by  the  authority  of  the  one,  and  delighted 
by  the  literary  leisure  of  the  other.  They  will  vie  with 
one  another  in  dutiful  affection  to  you,  and  the  loss 
of  one  son  will  be  supplied  by  the  love  of  two  others.  I 
can  confidently  promise  that  you  will  find  nothing  wanting 
in  your  sons  except  their  number.  Now,  then,  turn  your  eyes 
from  them  to  your  grandchildren ;  to  Marcus,  that  most 
engaging  child,  whose  sight  no  sorrow  can  withstand.  No 
grief  can  be  so  great  or  so  fresh  in  any  one's  bosom  as  not 
to  be  charmed  away  by  his  presence.  Where  are  the  tears 
which  his  joyousness  could  not  dry  ?  whose  heart  is  so 
nipped  by  sorrow  that  his  animation  would  not  cause  it 
to  dilate  ?  who  would  not  be  rendered  mirthful  by  his 
playfulness  ?  who  would  not  be  attracted  and  made  to 
forget  his  gloomy  thoughts  by  that  prattle  to  which  no  one 
can  ever  be  weary  of  listening  ?  I  pray  the  gods  that  he 
may  survive  us :  may  all  the  cruelty  of  fate  exhaust  itself  on 
me  and  go  no  further ;  may  all  the  sorrow  destined  for  my 
mother  and  my  grandmother  fall  upon  me ;  but  let  all  the  rest 
flourish  as  they  do  now  :  I  shall  make  no  complaints  about 
my  childlessness  or  my  exile,  if  only  my  sacrifice  may  be 
received  as  a  sufficient  atonement,  and  my  family  suffer 
nothing  more.  Hold  in  your  bosom  Novatilla,  who  soon 
will  present  you  with  great-grandchildren,  she  whom  I  had 
so  entirely  adopted  and  made  my  own,  that,  now  that  she  has 
lost  me,  she  seems  like  an  orphan,  even  though  her  father 
is  alive.  Love  her  for  my  sake  as  well  as  for  her  own  : 
Fortune  has  lately  deprived  her  of  her  mother:  your  affec- 
tion will  be  able  to  prevent  her  really  feeling  the  loss  of 
the  mother  whom  she  mourns.  Take  this  opportunity  of 
forming  and  strengthening  her  principles ;  nothing  sinks 


CH.  XIX.]  HELVIA.  349 

SO  deeply  into  the  mind  as  the  teaching  which  we  receive  in 
our  earliest  years ;  let  her  become  accustomed  to  hearing  your 
discourses ;  let  her  character  be  moulded  according  to  your 
pleasure  :  she  will  gain  much  even  if  you  give  her  nothing 
more  than  your  example.  This  continually  recurring  duty 
will  be  a  remedy  in  itself  :  for  when  your  mind  is  full  of 
maternal  sorrow,  nothing  can  distract  it  from  its  grief 
except  either  philosophic  argument  or  honourable  work.  I 
should  count  your  father  among  your  greatest  consolations, 
were  he  not  absent :  as  it  is,  judge  from  your  affection  for 
me  what  his  affection  is  for  you,  and  then  you  will  see  how 
much  more  just  it  is  that  you  should  be  preserved  for  him 
than  that  you  should  be  sacrificed  to  me.  Whenever  your 
keenest  paroxysms  of  grief  assail  you  and  bid  you  give  way 
to  them,  think  of  your  father.  By  giving  him  so  many 
grandchildren  and  great-grandchildren  you  have  made 
yourself  no  longer  his  only  daughter ;  but  you  alone  can 
crown  his  prosperous  life  by  a  happy  end :  as  long  as  he  is 
alive  it  is  impiety  for  you  to  regret  having  been  born. 

XIX.  I  have  hitherto  said  nothing  of  your  chief  source 
of  consolation,  your  sister,  that  most  faithful  heart  which 
shares  all  your  sorrows  as  fully  as  your  own,  and  who  feels 
for  all  of  us  like  a  mother.  With  her  you  have  mingled 
your  tears,  on  her  bosom  you  have  tasted  your  first  repose  : 
she  always  feels  for  your  troubles,  and  when  I  am  in  the  • 
case  she  does  not  grieve  for  you  alone.  It  was  in  her  arms 
that  I  was  carried  into  Rome :  by  her  affectionate  and 
motherly  nursing  I  regained  my  strength  after  a  long 
period  of  sickness  :  she  enlarged  her  influence  to  obtain  the 
office  of  quaestor  for  me,  and  her  fondness  for  me  made  her 
conquer  a  shyness  which  at  other  times  made  her  shrink 
from  speaking  to,  or  loudly  greeting  her  friends.  Neither 
her  retired  mode  of  life,  nor  her  country-bred  modesty,  at 
a  time  when  so  many  women  display  such  boldness  of 
manner,  her  placidity,  nor  her  habits  of  solitary  seclusion 


350  MINOE    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

prevented  her  from  becoming  actually  ambitious  on  my 
account.  Here,  my  dearest  mother,  is  a  source  from  which 
you  may  gain  true  consolation  :  join  yourself,  as  far  as  you 
are  able,  to  her,  bind  yourself  to  her  by  the  closest  embraces. 
Those  who  are  in  sorrow  are  wont  to  flee  from  those  who 
are  dearest  to  them,  and  to  seek  liberty  for  the  indulgence 
of  their  grief  :  do  you  let  her  share  your  every  thought :  if 
you  wish  to  nurse  your  grief,  she  will  be  your  companion, 
if  you  wish  to  lay  it  aside  she  will  bring  it  to  an  end.  If, 
however,  I  rightly  understand  the  wisdom  of  that  most 
perfect  woman,  she  will  not  suffer  you  to  waste  your  life  in 
unprofitable  mourning,  and  will  tell  you  what  happened 
in  her  own  instance,  which  I  myself  witnessed.  During  a 
sea-voyage  she  lost  a  beloved  husband,  my  uncle,  whom 
she  married  when  a  maiden;  she  endured  at  the  same  time 
grief  for  him  and  fear  for  herself,  and  at  last,  though  ship- 
wrecked, nevertheless  rescued  his  body  from  the  vanquished 
tempest.  How  many  noble  deeds  are  unknown  to  fame  ! 
If  only  she  had  had  the  simple-minded  ancients  to  admire 
her  virtues,  how  many  brilliant  intellects  would  have  vied 
with  one  another  in  singing  the  praises  of  a  wife  who  forgot 
the  weakness  of  her  sex,  forgot  the  perils  of  the  sea,  which 
terrify  even  the  boldest,  exposed  herself  to  death  in  order 
to  lay  him  in  the  earth,  and  who  was  so  eager  to  give  him 
decent  burial  that  she  cared  nothing  about  whether  she 
shared  it  or  no.  All  the  poets  have  made  the  wife'  famous 
who  gave  herself  to  death  instead  of  her  husband :  my  aunt 
did  more  when  she  risked  her  life  in  order  to  give  her 
husband  a  tomb  :  it  shows  greater  love  to  endure  the  same 
peril  for  a  less  important  end.  After  this,  no  one  need 
wonder  that  for  sixteen  years,  during  which  her  husband 
governed  the  province  of  Egypt,  she  was  never  beheld  in 
public,  never  admitted  any  of  the  natives  to  her  house,  never 

^  Alcestis. 


CH.  XX.]  HELYIA.  361 

begged  any  favour  of  her  husband,  and  never  allowed  any  one 
to  beg  one  of  her.  Thus  it  came  to  pass  that  a  gossiping 
province,  ingenious  in  inventing  scandal  about  its  rulers, 
in  which  even  the  blameless  often  incurred  disgrace, 
respected  her  as  a  singular  example  of  uprightness,^  never 
made  free  with  her  name, — a  remarkable  piece  of  self- 
restraint  among  a  people  who  will  risk  everything  rather 
than  forego  a  jest, — and  that  at  the  present  time  it  hopes 
for  another  governor's  wife  like  her,  although  it  has  no 
reasonable  expectation  of  ever  seeing  one.  It  would  have 
been  greatly  to  her  credit  if  the  province  had  approved  her 
conduct  for  a  space  of  sixteen  years :  it  was  much  more 
creditable  to  her  that  it  knew  not  of  her  existence.  I  do 
not  remind  you  of  this  in  order  to  celebrate  her  praises,  for 
to  take  such  scanty  notice  of  them  is  to  curtail  them, 
but  in  order  that  you  may  understand  the  magnanimity  of 
a  woman  who  has  not  yielded  either  to  ambition  or  to 
avarice,  those  twin  attendants  and  scourges  of  authority, 
who,  when  her  ship  was  disabled  and  her  own  death  was 
impending,  was  not  restrained  by  fear  from  keeping  fast 
hold  of  her  husband's  dead  body,  and  who  sought  not  how 
to  escape  from  the  wreck,  but  how  to  carry  him  out  of  it 
with  her.  You  must  now  show  a  virtue  equal  to  hers, 
recall  your  mind  from  grief,  and  take  care  that  no  one 
may  think  that  you  are  sorry  that  you  have  borne  a  son. 

XX.  However,  since  it  is  necessary,  whatever  you  do, 
that  your  thoughts  should  sometimes  revert  to  me,  and  that 
I  should  now  be  present  to  your  mind  more  often  than  your 
other  children,  not  because  they  are  less  dear  to  you,  but 
because  it  is  natural  to  lay  one's  hands  more  often  upon  a 
place  that  pains  one ;  learn  how  you  are  to  think  of  me  :  I 
am  as  joyous  and  cheerful  as  in  my  best  days  :  indeed  these 

^  The  context  shows  that  sanctitas  is  opposed  to  "  rapacity,"  "  taking 
bribes,"  like  the  Celaeno  of  Juv.  viii.— J.  E.  B.  M. 


352  MINOE   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XI. 

days  are  my  best,  because  my  mind  is  relieved  from  all 
pressure  of  business  and  is  at  leisure  to  attend  to  its 
own  affairs,  and  at  one  time  amuses  itself  with  lighter 
studies,  at  another  eagerly  presses  its  inquiries  into  its  own 
nature  and  that  of  the  universe :  first  it  considers  the 
countries  of  the  world  and  their  position :  then  the  character 
of  the  sea  which  flows  between  them,  and  the  alternate 
ebbings  and  Sowings  of  its  tides  ;  next  it  investigates  all 
the  terrors  which  hang  between  heaven  and  earth,  the 
region  which  is  torn  asunder  by  thunderings,  lightnings, 
gusts  of  wind,  vapour,  showers  of  snow  and  hail.  Finally, 
having  traversed  every  one  of  the  realms  below,  it  soars  to 
the  highest  heaven,  enjoys  the  noblest  of  all  spectacles,  that 
of  things  divine,  and,  remembering  itself  to  be  eternal, 
reviews  all  that  has  been  and  all  that  will  be  for  ever  and 
ever. 


353 


THE   TWELFTH   BOOK   OF   THE   DIALOGUES 

OF   L.   ANNAEUS   SENECA, 

ADDRESSED  TO  POLYBIUS. 

OF    CONSOLA^TION. 
I. 

....  compared  with  ours  is  firm  and  lasting  ;  but  if  you 
transfer  it  to  the  domain  of  Nature,  which  destroys  every- 
thing and  calls  everything  back  to  the  place  from  whence 
it  came,  it  is  transitory.  What,  indeed,  have  mortal  hands 
made  that  is  not  mortal  ?  The  seven  wonders  of  the  world, 
and  any  even  greater  wonders  which  the  ambition  of  later 
ages  has  constructed,  will  be  seen  some  day  levelled  with  the 
ground.  So  it  is  :  nothing  lasts  for  ever,  few  things  even 
last  for  long  :  all  are  susceptible  of  decay  in  one  way  or 
another.  The  ways  in  which  things  come  to  an  end  are 
manifold,  but  yet  everything  that  has  a  beginning  has  an 
end  also.  Some  threaten  the  world  with  death,  and, 
though  you  may  think  the  thought  to  be  impious,  this 
entire  universe,  containing  gods  and  men  and  all  their 
works  will  some  day  be  swept  away  and  plunged  a  second 
time  into  its  original  darkness  and  chaos.  Weep,  if  you 
can,  after  this,  over  the  loss  of  any  individual  life  !  Can 
we  mourn  the  ashes  of  Carthage,  Numantia,  Corinth,  or 
any  city  that  has  fallen  from  a  high  estate,  when  we 
know  that  the  world  must  perish,  albeit  it  has  no  place 

A  A 


354  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

into  which  it  can  fall.  Weep,  if  you  can,  because  Fate 
has  not  spared  you,  she  who  some  day  will  dare  to  work  so 
great  a  wickedness  !  Who  can  be  so  haughtily  and  peevishly 
arrogant  as  to  expect  that  this  law  of  nature  by  which  every- 
thing is  brought  to  an  end  will  be  set  aside  in  his  own  case, 
and  that  his  own  house  will  be  exempted  from  the  ruin 
which  menaces  the  whole  world  itself  ?  It  is,  therefore,  a 
great  consolation  to  reflect  that  what  has  happened  to  us 
has  happened  to  every  one  before  us  and  will  happen  to 
every  one  after  us.  In  my  opinion,  nature  has  made  her 
cruellest  acts  affect  all  men  alike,  in  order  that  the  uni- 
versality of  their  lot  might  console  them  for  its  hardship, 

II.  It  will  also  be  no  spiall  assistance  to  you  to  reflect 
that  grief  can  do  no  good  either  to  him  whom  you  have 
lost  or  to  yourself,  and  you  would  not  wish  to  protract 
what  is  useless :  for  if  we  could  gain  anything  by  sorrow, 
I  should  not  refuse  to  bestow  upon  your  misfortunes  what- 
ever tears  my  own  have  left  at  my  disposal :  I  would 
force  some  drops  to  flow  from  these  eyes,  exhausted  as 
they  are  with  weeping  over  my  own  domestic  afflictions, 
were  it  likely  to  be  of  any  service  to  you.  Why  do  you 
hesitate  ?  let  us  lament  together,  and  I  will  even  make 
this  quarrel  my  own  : — "  Fortune,  whom  every  one  thinks 
most  unjust,  you  seemed  hitherto  to  have  restrained 
yourself  from  attacking  one  who  by  your  favour  had 
become  the  object  of  such  universal  respect  that — rare 
distinction  for  any  one — his  prosperity  had  excited  no 
jealousy :  but  now,  behold !  you  have  dealt  him  the 
cruellest  wound  which,  while  Caesar  lives,  he  could  receive, 
and  after  reconnoitring  him  from  all  sides  you  have  dis- 
covered that  on  this  point  alone  he  was  exposed  to  your 
strokes.  What  else  indeed  could  you  have  done  to  him  ? 
should  you  take  away  his  wealth  ?  he  never  was  its  slave :  now 
he  has  even  as  far  as  possible  put  it  away  from  him,  and  the 
chief  thing  that  he  has  gained  by  his  unrivalled  facilities 


CH.  III.]  POLYBIUS.  355 

for  amassing  money  has  been  to  despise  it.  Should  you 
take  away  his  friends  ?  you  knew  that  he  was  of  so 
ioveable  a  disposition  that  he  could  easily  gain  others  to 
replace  those  whom  he  might  lose  :  for  of  all  the  powerful 
officers  of  the  Imperial  household  he  seems  to  me  to  be  the 
only  one  whom  all  men  wish  to  have  for  their  friend  with- 
out considering  how  advantageous  his  friendship  would 
be.  Should  you  take  away  his  reputation  ?  it  is  so  firmly 
established,  that  even  you  could  not  shake  it.  Should  you 
take  away  his  health  ?  you  knew  that  his  mind  was  so 
grounded  on  philosophical  studies,  in  whose  schools  he  was 
born  as  well  as  bred,  that  it  would  rise  superior  to  any 
sufEerings  of  the  body.  Should  you  take  away  his  breath  ? 
how  small  an  injury  would  that  be  to  him  ?  fame  promised 
his  genius  one  of  the  longest  of  lives :  he  himself  has 
taken  care  that  his  better  part  should  remain  alive,  and 
has  guarded  himself  against  death  by  the  composition  of 
his  admirable  works  of  eloquence:  as  long  as  literature 
shall  be  held  in  any  honour,  as  long  as  the  vigour  of  the 
Latin  or  the  grace  of  the  Greek  language  shall  endure,  he 
will  flourish  together  with  their  greatest  writers,  with 
whose  genius  he  has  measured,  or,  if  his  modesty  will  not 
let  me  say  this,  has  connected  his  own.  This,  then,  was 
the  only  means  you  could  devise  of  doing  him  a  great 
injury.  The  better  a  man  is,  the  more  frequently  he  is 
wont  to  suffer  from  your  indiscriminate  rage,  you  who  are 
to  be  feared  even  when  you  are  bestowing  benefits  upon 
one.  How  little  it  would  have  cost  you  to  avert  this  blow 
from  one  upon  whom  your  favours  seemed  to  be  conferred 
according  to  some  regular  plan,  and  not  to  be  flung  at 
random  in  your  wonted  fashion !  " 

III.  Let  us  add,  if  you  please,  to  these  grounds  of  com- 
plaint the  disposition  of  the  youth  himself,  cut  off  in  the 
midst  of  its  first  growth.  He  was  worthy  to  be  your 
brother  ;  you  most  certainly  did  not  deserve  to  be  given 


356  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bk.  XIL 

any  pain  throngh  your  brother,  even  thougli  he  had  been 
unworthy.  All  men  alike  bear  witness  to  his  merits : 
he  is  regretted  for  your  sake,  and  is  praised  for  his  own. 
He  had  no  qualities  which  you  would  not  be  glad  to 
recognize.  You  would  indeed  have  been  good  to  a  worse 
brother,  but  to  him  your  fraternal  love  was  given  all  the 
more  freely  because  in  him  it  found  so  fitting  a  field 
for  its  exercise.  No  one  ever  was  made  to  feel  his  in- 
fluence by  receiving  wrongs  at  his  hands,  he  never  used 
the  fact  of  your  being  his  brother  to  threaten  any  one  :  he 
had  moulded  his  character  after  the  pattern  of  your  modesty, 
and  reflected  how  great  a  glory  and  how  great  a  burden  you 
were  to  your  family  :  the  burden  he  was  able  to  sustain ; 
but,  0  pitiless  Fate,  always  unjust  to  virtue — before  your 
brother  could  taste  the  happiness  of  his  position,  he  was 
called  away.  I  am  well  aware  that  I  express  my  feelings 
inadequately;  for  nothing  is  harder  than  to  find  words 
which  adequately  represent  great  grief :  still,  let  us  again 
lament  for  him,  if  it  be  of  any  use  to  do  so  : — "  What  did 
you  mean.  Fortune,  by  being  so  unjust  and  so  savage  ? 
did  you  so  soon  repent  you  of  your  favour  ?  What  cruelty 
it  was  to  fall  upon  brothers,  to  break  up  so  loving  a  circle 
by  so  deadly  an  attack  ;  why  did  you  bring  mourning  into 
a  house  so  plenteously  stocked  with  admirable  youths,  in 
which  no  brother  came  short  of  the  high  standard  of  the 
rest,  and  without  any  cause  pluck  one  of  them  away  ?  So, 
then,  scrupulous  innocency  of  life,  old-fashioned  frugality, 
the  power  of  amassing  vast  wealth  wielded  with  the  greatest 
self-denial,  a  true  and  imperishable  love  of  literature,  a  mind 
free  from  the  least  spot  of  sin,  all  avail  nothing  :  Polybius 
is  in  mourning,  and,  warned  by  the  fate  of  one  brother 
what  he  may  have  to  dread  for  the  rest,  he  fears  for  the 
very  persons  who  soothe  his  grief.  0  shame  !  Polybius 
is  in  mourning,  and  mourns  even  though  he  still  enjoys  the 
favour  of  Caesar.    No  doubt,  Fortune,  what  you  aimed  at  in 


CH.  v.]  POLYBIUS.  357 

your  impotent  rage  was  to  prove  that  no  one  could  be  pro- 
tected from  your  attacks,  not  even  by  Caesar  himself." 

IV.  We  might  go  on  blaming  fate  much  longer,  but  we 
cannot  alter  it :  it  stands  harsh  and  inexorable :  no  one 
can  move  it  by  reproaches,  by  tears,  or  by  justice.  Fate 
never  spares  any  one,  never  makes  allowances  to  any  one. 
Let  us,  then,  refrain  from  unprofitable  tears  ;  for  our  grief 
will  carry  us  away  to  join  him  sooner  than  it  will  bring 
him  back  to  us  :  and  if  it  tortures  us  without  helping  us, 
we  ought  to  lay  it  aside  as  soon  as  possible,  and  restore  the 
tone  of  our  minds  after  their  indulgence  in  that  vain  solace 
and  the  bitter  luxury  of  woe  :  for  unless  reason  puts  an  end 
to  our  tears,  fortune  will  not  do  so.  Look  around,  I  pray 
you,  upon  all  mortals :  everywhere  there  is  ample  and 
constant  reason  for  weeping :  one  man  is  driven  to  daily 
labour  by  toilsome  poverty,  another  is  tormented  by  never- 
resting  ambition,  another  fears  the  very  riches  that  he  once 
wished  for,  and  suffers  from  the  granting  of  his  own  prayer  : 
one  man  is  made  wretched  by  loneliness,  another  by  labour, 
another  by  the  crowds  which  always  besiege  his  ante- 
chamber. This  man  mourns  because  he  has  children,  that 
one  because  he  has  lost  them.  Tears  will  fail  us  sooner 
than  causes  for  shedding  them.  Do  you  not  see  what  sort 
of  a  life  it  must  be  that  Nature  has  promised  to  us  men 
when  she  makes  us  weep  as  soon  as  we  are  born  ?  We 
begin  life  in  this  fashion,  and  all  the  chain  of  years  that 
follow  it  is  in  harmony  with  it.  Thus  we  pass  our  lives, 
and  consequently  we  ought  to  be  sparing  in  doing  what  we 
have  to  do  so  often,  and  when  we  look  back  upon  the  mass 
of  sorrows  that  hangs  over  us,  we  ought,  if  not  to  end  our 
tears,  at  any  rate  to  reserve  them.  There  is  nothing  that 
we  ought  to  husband  more  carefully  than  this,  which  we 
are  so  often  obliged  to  expend. 

V.  It  will  also  be  no  small  assistance  to  you  to  consider 
that  there  is  no  one  to  whom  your  grief  is  more  offensive 


358  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

than  he  upon  whom,  it  is  nominally  bestowed  :  he  either 
does  not  wish  you  to  suffer  or  does  not  understand  why  you 
suffer.  There  is,  therefore,  no  reason  for  a  service  which  is 
useless  if  it  is  not  felt  by  him  who  is  the  object  of  it,  and 
which  is  displeasing  to  him  if  it  is.  I  can  boldly  affirm 
that  there  is  no  one  in  the  whole  world  who  derives  any 
pleasure  from  your  tears.  What  then  ?  do  you  suppose 
that  your  brother  has  a  feeling  against  you  which  no  one 
else  has,  that  he  wishes  you  to  be  injured  by  your  self- 
torture,  that  he  desires  to  separate  you  from  the  business 
of  your  life,  that  is,  from  philosophy  and  from  Caesar  ? 
that  is  not  likely:  for  he  always  gave  way  to  you  as  a 
brother,  respected  you  as  a  parent,  courted  you  as  a 
superior.  He  wishes  to  be  fondly  remembered  by  you,  but 
not  to  be  a  source  of  agony  to  you.  Why,  then,  should 
you  insist  upon  pining  away  with  a  grief  which,  if  the  dead 
have  any  feelings,  your  brother  wishes  to  bring  to  an  end  ? 
If  it  were  any  other  brother  about  whose  affection  there 
could  be  any  question,  I  should  put  all  this  vaguely,  and 
say,.  "  If  your  brother  wishes  you  to  be  tortured  with 
endless  mourning,  he  does  not  deserve  such  affection  :  if 
he  does  not  wish  it,  dismiss  the  grief  which  affects  you 
both :  an  unnatural  brother  ought  not,  a  good  brother  would 
not  wish  to  be  so  mourned  for,"  but  with  one  whose 
brotherly  love  has  been  so  clearly  proved,  we  may  be  quite 
sure  that  nothing  could  hurt  him  more  than  that  you  should 
be  hurt  by  his  loss,  that  it  should  agonize  you,  that  your 
eyes,  most  undeserving  as  they  are  of  such  a  fate,  should 
be  by  the  same  cause  continually  filled  and  drained  of 
never-ceasing  tears. 

Nothing  however  will  restrain  your  loving  nature  from 
these  useless  tears  so  effectually  as  the  reflexion  that  you 
ought  to  show  your  brothers  an  example  by  bearing  this 
outrage  of  fortune  bravely.  You  ought  to  imitate  great 
generals  in  times  of  disaster,  when  they  are  careful  to  affect 


CH.  YI.]  POLYBIUS.  359 

a  cheerful  demeanour,  and  conceal  misfortunes  by  a  counter- 
feited joyousness,  lest,  if  the  soldiers  saw  their  leader  cast 
down,  they  should  themselves  become  dispirited.  This  must 
now  be  done  by  you  also.  Put  on  a  countenance  that  does 
not  reflect  your  feelings,  and  if  you  possibly  can,  cast  out 
conceal  it  within  you  and  hide  it  away  so  that  it  may  not  be 
seen,  and  take  care  that  your  brothers,  who  will  think  every- 
thing honourable  that  they  see  you  doing,  imitate  you  in 
this  and  take  courage  from  the  sight  of  your  looks.  It  is 
your  duty  to  be  both  their  comfort  and  their  consoler  ;  but 
you  will  have  no  power  to  check  their  grief  if  you  humour 
your  own. 

YI.  It  may  also  keep  you  from  excessive  grief  if  you 
remind  yourself  that  nothing  which  you  do  can  be  done  in 
secret:  all  men  agree  in  regarding  you  as  an  important 
personage,  and  you  must  keep  up  this  character  :  you  are 
encompassed  by  all  that  mass  of  offerers  of  consolation 
who  all  are  peering  into  your  mind  to  learn  how  much 
strength  it  has  to  resist  grief,  and  whether  you  merely 
know  how  to  avail  yourself  cunningly  of  prosperity,  or 
whether  you  can  also  bear  adversity  with  a  manly  spirit : 
the  expression  of  your  very  eyes  is  watched.  Those  who 
are  able  to  conceal  their  feelings  may  indulge  them  more 
freely ;  but  you  are  not  free  to  have  any  secresy :  your  fortune 
has  set  you  in  so  brilliant  a  position,  that  nothing  which 
you  do  can  be  hid  :  all  men  will  know  how  you  have  borne 
this  wound  of  yours,  whether  you  laid  down  your  arms  at 
the  first  shock  or  whether  you  stood  your  ground.  Long 
ago  the  love  of  Caesar  raised  you,  and  your  own  literary 
pursuits  brought  you,  to  the  highest  rank  in  the  state : 
nothing  vulgar,  nothing  mean  befits  you  :  yet  what  can  be 
meaner  or  more  womanish  than  to  make  oneself  a  victim 
to  grief  ?  Although  your  sorrow  is  as  great  as  that  of  your 
brothers,  yet  you  may  not  indulge  it  as  much  as  they  :  the 
ideas  which  the  public  have  formed  about  your  philosophic 


360  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

learning  and  your  character  make  many  things  impossible 
for  you.  Men  demand  much,  and  expect  much  from  you  : 
you  ought  not  to  have  drawn  all  eyes  upon  yourself,  if  you 
wished  to  be  allowed  to  act  as  you  pleased :  as  it  is,  you 
must  make  good  that  of  which  you  have  given  promise. 
All  those,  who  praise  the  works  of  your  genius,  who  make 
copies  of  them,  who  need  your  genius  if  they  do  not  need  your 
fortune,  are  as  guards  set  over  your  mind :  you  cannot, 
therefore,  ever  do  anything  unworthy  of  the  character  of  a 
thorough  philosopher  and  sage,  without  many  men  feeling 
sorry  that  they  ever  admired  you.  You  may  not  weep 
beyond  reason  :  nor  is  this  the  only  thing  that  you  may 
not  do  :  you  may  not  so  much  as  remain  asleep  after  day- 
break, or  retreat  from  the  noisy  troubles  of  public  business 
to  the  peaceful  repose  of  the  country,  or  refresh  yourself 
with  a  pleasure  tour  when  wearied  by  constant  attendance 
to  the  duties  of  your  toilsome  post,  or  amuse  yourself  with 
beholding  various  shows,  or  even  arrange  your  day  accord- 
ing to  your  own  wish.  Many  things  are  forbidden  to  you 
which  are  permitted  to  the  poorest  beggars  that  lie  about 
in  holes  and  comers.  A  great  fortune  is  a  great  slavery ; 
you  may  not  do  anything  according  to  your  wish :  you 
must  give  audiences  to  all  those  thousands  of  people,  you 
must  take  charge  of  all  those  petitions :  you  must  cheer 
yourself  up,  in  order  that  all  this  mass  of  business  which 
flows  hither  from  every  part  of  the  world  may  be  offered  in 
due  order  for  the  consideration  of  our  excellent  emperor. 
I  repeat,  you  yourself  are  forbidden  to  weep,  that  you  may 
be  able  to  listen  to  so  many  weeping  petitioners  :  your  own 
tears  must  be  dried,  in  order  that  the  tears  of  those  who 
are  in  peril  and  who  desire  to  obtain  the  gracious  pardon  of 
the  kindest-hearted  of  Caesars  may  be  dried. 

VII.  These  reflexions  will  serve  you  as  partial  remedies 
for  your  grief,  but  if  you  wish  to  forget  it  altogether,  re- 
member  Caesar:    think    with    what    loyalty,    with    what 


CH.  VIII.]  POLYBIUS.  361 

industry  you  are  bound  to  requite  the  favours  which  he  has 
shown  you  :  you  will  then  see  that  you  can  no  more  sink 
beneath  your  burden  than  could  he  of  whom  the  myths  tells 
ns,  he  whose  shoulders  upheld  the  world.  Even  Caesar, 
who  may  do  all  things,  may  not  do  many  things  for  this 
very  reason  :  his  watchfulness  protects  all  men's  sleep,  his 
labour  guarantees  their  leisure,  his  toil  ensures  their 
pleasures,  his  work  preserves  their  holidays.  On  the  day 
on  which  Caesar  devoted  his  services  to  the  universe,  he 
lost  them  for  himself,  and  like  the  planets  which  ever  un- 
restingly  pursue  their  course,  he  can  never  halt  or  attend 
to  any  affair  of  his  own.  After  a  certain  fashion  this  pro- 
hibition is  imposed  upon  you  also  ;  you  may  not  consider 
your  own  interests,  or  devote  yourself  to  your  own  studies : 
while  Caesar  owns  the  world,  you  cannot  allow  either  joy  or 
grief,  or  anything  else  to  occupy  any  part  of  you :  you  owe 
your  entire  self  to  Caesar.  Add  to  this  that,  since  you 
have  always  declared  that  Caesar  was  dearer  to  you  than 
your  own  life,  you  have  no  right  to  complain  of  misfortune 
as  long  as  Caesar  is  alive :  while  he  is  safe  all  your  friends 
are  alive,  you  have  lost  nothing,  your  eyes  ought  not  only 
to  be  dry,  but  glad.  In  him  is  your  all,  he  stands  in  the 
place  of  all  else  to  you  :  you  are  not  grateful  enough  for 
your  present  happy  state  (which  God  forbid  that  one  of 
your  most  wise  and  loyal  disposition  should  be)  if  you 
permit  yourself  to  weep  at  all  while  Caesar  is  safe. 

yill.  I  will  now  point  out  to  you  yet  another  remedy, 
of  a  more  domestic,  though  not  of  a  more  efficacious 
character.  Your  sorrow  is  most  to  be  feared  when  you 
have  retired  to  your  own  home :  for  as  long  as  your  divinity 
is  before  your  eyes,  it  can  find  no  means  of  access  to  you, 
but  Caesar  will  possess  your  entire  being ;  when  you  have 
left  his  presence,  grief,  as  though  it  then  had  an  opportunity 
of  attack,  will  lie  in  ambush  for  you  in  your  loneliness,  and 
creep  by  degrees  over  your  mind  as  it  rests  from  its  labours. 


362  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

Yon  ouglit  not,  therefore,  to  allow  any  moment  to  be  un- 
occupied bj  literary  pursuits  :  at  sucb  times  let  literature 
repay  to  you  the  debt  which  your  long  and  faithful  love 
has  laid  upon  it,  let  it  claim  you  for  its  high  priest  and 
worshipper  :  at  such  times  let  Horner^  and  Virgil  be  much 
in  your  company,  those  poets  to  whom  the  human  race  owes 
as  much  as  every  one  owes  to  you,  and  they  especially, 
because  you  have  made  them  known  to  a  wider  circle  than 
that  for  which  they  wrote.  All  time  which  you  entrust  to 
their  keeping  will  be  safe.  ^  At  such  times,  as  far  as  you 
are  able,  compile  an  account  of  your  Caesar's  acts,  that  they 
may  be  read  by  all  future  ages  in  a  panegyric  written  by 
one  of  his  own  household :  for  he  himself  will  afford  you 
both  the  noblest  subject  and  the  noblest  example  for  putting 
together  and  composing  a  history.  I  dare  not  go  so  far  as 
to  advise  you  to  write  in  your  usual  elegant  style  a  version 
of  ^sop's  fables,  a  work  which  no  Roman  intellect  has 
hitherto  attempted.  It  is  hard,  no  doubt,  for  a  mind  which 
has  received  so  rude  a  shock  to  betake  itself  so  quickly  to 
these  livelier  pursuits  :  but  if  it  is  able  to  pass  from  more 
serious  studies  to  these  lighter  ones,  you  must  regard  it  as 
a  proof  that  it  has  recovered  its  strength,  and  is  itself 
again.  In  the  former  case,  although  it  may  suffer  and 
hang  back,  still  it  will  be  led  on  by  the  serious  nature  of 
the  subject  under  consideration  to  take  an  interest  in  it  ; 
but,  unless  it  has  thoroughly  recovered,  it  will  not  endure 
to  treat  of  subjects  which  must  be  written  of  in  a  cheerful 
spirit.  You  ought,  therefore,  first  to  exercise  your  mind 
upon  grave  studies,  and  then  to  enliven  it  with  gayer  ones. 

^  "  The  Latins  had  four  versions  of  Homer  (Fabric,  torn.  i.  I.  ii.  ch.  3, 
p.  297),  yet,  in  spite  of  the  phraises  of  Seneca,  Consol,ch.  26  (viii.),  they 
appear  to  have  been  more  successful  in  imitating  than  in  translating  the 
Greek  poets." — Gibbon's  "Decline  and  Fall,"  ch.  41,  ad  init.,  note. 
Polybius  had  made  a  prose  translation  of  Homer,  and  a  prose  paraphrase 
of  Virgil. 


CH.  IX.]  POLTBIUS.  363 

IX.  It  will  also  be  a  great  solace  to  you  if  you  often  ask 
yourself  :  "  Am  I  grieving  on  my  own  account  or  on  that 
of  him  who  is  gone  ?  if  on  my  own,  I  have  no  right  to 
boast  of  my  affectionate  sensibility ;  grief  is  only  excusable 
as  long  as  it  is  honourable  ;  but  when  it  is  only  caused  by 
personal  interests,  it  no  longer  springs  from  tenderness  : 
nothing  can  be  less  becoming  to  a  good  man  than  to  make 
a  calculation  about  his  grief  for  his  brother.  If  I  grieve  on 
his  account,  I  must  necessarily  take  one  of  the  two  following 
views  :  if  the  dead  retain  no  feeling  whatever,  my  brother 
has  escaped  from  all  the  troubles  of  life,  has  been  restored 
to  the  place  which  he  occupied  before  his  birth,  and, 
being  free  from  every  kind  of  ill,  can  neither  fear,  nor 
desire,  nor  suffer :  what  madness  then  for  me  never  to 
cease  grieving  for  one  who  will  never  grieve  again  ?  If 
the  dead  have  any  feeling,  then  my  brother  is  now  like  one 
who  has  been  let  out  of  a  prison  in  which  he  has  long  been 
confined,  who  at  last  is  free  and  his  own  master,  and  who 
enjoys  himself,  amuses  himself  with  viewing  the  works  of 
Nature,  and  looks  down  from  above  the  earth  upon  all 
human  things,  while  he  looks  at  things  divine,  whose 
meaning  he  has  long  sought  in  vain,  from  a  much  nearer 
standpoint.  Why  then  am  I  wasting  away  with  grief  for 
one  who  is  either  in  bliss  or  non-existent  ?  it  would  be 
envy  to  weep  for  one  who  is  in  bliss,  it  would  be  madness 
to  weep  for  one  who  has  no  existence  whatever."  Are  you 
affected  by  the  thought  that  he  appears  to  have  been  de- 
prived of  great  blessings  just  at  the  moment  when  they  came 
crowding  upon  him  ?  after  thinking  how  much  he  has  lost, 
call  to  mind  how  much  more  he  has  ceased  to  fear  :  anger 
will  never  more  wring  his  heart,  disease  will  not  crush  him, 
suspicion  will  not  disquiet  him,  the  gnawing  pain  of  envy 
which  we  feel  at  the  successes  of  others  will  not  attend 
him,  terror  will  not  make  him  wretched,  the  fickleness  of 
fortune  who  quickly  transfers  her  favours  from   one  man 


364  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

to  another  will  not  alarm  him.  If  you  reckon  it  up  pro- 
perly, he  has  been  spared  more  than  he  has  lost.  He  will 
not  enjoy  wealth,  or  your  influence  at  Court,  or  his  own  : 
he  will  not  receive  benefits,  and  will  not  confer  them  :  do 
you  imagine  him  to  be  unhappy,  because  he  has  lost  these 
things,  or  happy  because  he  does  not  miss  them  ?  Believe 
me,  he  who  does  not  need  good  fortune  is  happier  than  he 
on  whom  it  attends :  all  those  good  things  which  charm 
us  by  the  attractive  but  unreal  pleasures  which  they  afford, 
Such  as  money,  high  office,  influence,  and  many  other 
things  which  dazzle  the  stupid  greed  of  mankind,  require 
hard  labour  to  keep,  are  regarded  by  others  with  bitter 
jealousy,  and  are  more  of  a  menace  than  an  advantage  to 
those  who  are  bedecked  and  encumbered  by  them.  They 
are  slippery  and  uncertain ;  one  never  can  enjoy  them  in 
comfort ;  for,  even  setting  aside  anxiety  about  the  future, 
the  present  management  of  great  prosperity  is  an  uneasy 
task.  If  we  are  to  believe  some  profound  seekers  after 
truth,  life  is  all  torment :  we  are  flung,  as  it  were,  into 
this  deep  and  rough  sea,  whose  tides  ebb  and  flow,  at  one 
time  raising  ns  aloft  by  sudden  accessions  of  fortune,  at 
another  bringing  down  low  by  still  greater  losses,  and 
for  ever  tossing  us  about,  never  letting  ns  rest  on  firm 
ground.  We  roll  and  plunge  upon  the  waves,  and  some- 
times strike  against  one  another,  sometimes  are  ship- 
wrecked, always  are  in  terror.  For  those  who  sail  upon 
this  stormy  sea,  exposed  as  it  is  to  every  gale,  there  is  no 
harbour  save  death.  Do  not,  then,  grudge  your  brother 
his  rest :  he  has  at  last  become  free,  safe,  and  immortal : 
he  leaves  surviving  him  Caesar  and  all  his  family,  yourself, 
and  his  and  your  brothers.  He  left  Fortune  before  she 
had  ceased  to  regard  him  with  favour,  while  she  stood  still 
by  him,  offering  him  gifts  with  a  full  hand.  He  now 
ranges  free  and  joyous  through  the  boundless  heavens  ;  he 
has  left  this  poor  and  low-lying  region,  and  has  soared 


CH.  X.]  POLTBIUS.  365 

upwards  to  that  place,  whatever  it  may  be,  which  receives 
in  its  happy  bosom  the  souls  which  have  been  set  free  from 
the  chains  of  matter:  he  now  roams  there  at  liberty,  and 
enjoys  with  the  keenest  delight  all  the  blessings  of  Nature. 
You  are  mistaken !  your  brother  has  not  lost  the  light  of 
day,  but  has  obtained  a  more  enduring  light :  whither  he 
has  gone,  we  all  alike  must  go  :  why  then  do  we  weep  for 
his  fate  ?  He  has  not  left  us,  but  has  gone  on  before  us. 
Believe  me,  there  is  great  happiness  in  a  happy  death.  We 
cannot  be  sure  of  anything  even  for  one  whole  day  :  since 
the  truth  is  so  dark  and  hard  to  come  at,  who  can  tell 
whether  death  came  to  your  brother  out  of  malice  or  out  of 
kindness  ? 

X.  One  who  is  as  just  in  all  things  as  you  are,  must  find 
comfort  in  the  thought  that  no  wrong  has  been  done  you 
by  the  loss  of  so  noble  a  brother,  but  that  you  have  received 
a  benefit  by  having  been  permitted  for  so  long  a  time  to 
'enjoy  his  affection.  He  who  will  not  allow  his  benefactor 
to  choose  his  own  way  of  bestowing  a  gift  upon  him,  is 
unjust :  he  who  does  not  reckon  what  he  receives  as  gain, 
and  yet  reckons  what  he  gives  back  again  as  loss,  is  greedy : 
he  who  says  that  he  has  been  wronged,  because  his  pleasure 
has  come  to  an  end,  is  ungrateful :  he  who  thinks  that  we 
gain  nothing  from  good  things  beyond  the  present  enjoy- 
ment of  them,  is  a  fool,  because  he  finds  no  pleasure  in 
past  joys,  and  does  not  regard  those  which  are  gone  as  his 
most  certain  possessions,  since  he  need  not  fear  that  they 
will  come  to  an  end.  A  man  limits  his  pleasures  too  nar- 
rowly if  he  believes  that  he  enjoys  those  things  only  which 
he  touches  and  sees,  if  he  counts  the  having  enjoyed  them 
for  nothing  :  for  all  pleasure  quickly  leaves  us,  seeing  that 
it  flows  away,  flits  across  our  lives,  and  is  gone  almost 
before  it  has  come.  We  ought,  therefore,  to  make  our 
mind  travel  back  over  past  time,  to  bring  back  whatever  we 
once  took  pleasure  in,  and  frequently  to  ruminate  over  it 


366  MINOR    DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

in  our  thoughts :  the  remembrance  of  pleasures  is  truer  and 
more  trustworthy  than  their  reality.  Regard  it,  then,  among 
your  greatest  blessings  that  you  have  had  an  excellent 
brother  :  you  need  not  think  for  how  much  longer  you 
might  have  had  him,  but  for  how  long  you  did  have  him. 
Nature  gave  him  to  you,  as  she  gives  others  to  other  brothers, 
not  as  an  absolute  property,  but  as  a  loan  :  afterwards 
when  she  thought  proper  she  took  him  back  again,  and 
followed  her  own  rules  of  action,  instead  of  waiting  until 
jou  had  indulged  your  love  to  satiety.  If  any  one  were  to 
be  indignant  at  having  to  repay  a  loan  of  money,  especially 
if  he  had  been  allowed  to  use  it  without  having  to  pay  any 
interest,  would  he  not  be  thought  an  unreasonable  man  ? 
Nature  gave  your  brother  his  life,  just  as  she  gave  you 
yours :  exercising  her  lawful  rights,  she  has  chosen  to  ask 
one  of  you  to  repay  her  loan  before  the  other :  she  cannot 
be  blamed  for  this,  for  you  knew  the  conditions  on  which 
you  received  it :  you  must  blame  the  greedy  hopes  of 
mortal  men's  minds,  which  every  now  and  then  forget 
what  Nature  is,  and  never  remember  their  own  lot  unless 
reminded  of  it.  Rejoice,  then,  that  you  have  had  so  good 
a  brother,  and  be  grateful  for  having  had  the  use  and  en- 
joyment of  him,  though  it  was  for  a  shorter  time  than  you 
wished.  Reflect  that  what  you  have  had  of  him  was  most 
delightful,  that  your  having  lost  him  is  an  accident  com- 
mon to  mankind.  There  is  nothing  more  inconsistent 
than  that  a  man  should  grieve  that  so  good  a  brother  was 
not  long  enough  with  him,  and  should  not  rejoice  that  he 
nevertheless  has  been  with  him. 

XI.  "  But,"  you  say,  "he  was  taken  away  unexpectedly." 
Every  man  is  deceived  by  his  own  willingness  to  believe 
what  he  wishes,  and  he  chooses  to  forget  that  those  whom 
he  loves  are  mortal :  yet  Nature  gives  us  clear  proofs  that 
she  will  not  suspend  her  laws  in  favour  of  any  one  :  the 
funeral  processions  of  our  friends  and  of  strangers  alike 


CH.  XI.]  POLTBIUS.  367 

pass  daily  before  our  eyes,  yet  we  take  no  notice  of  them, 
and  when  an  event  happens  which  our  whole  life  warns  us 
will  some  day  happen,  we  call  ifc  sudden.  This  is  not, 
therefore,  the  injustice  of  fate,  but  the  perversity  and  in- 
satiable universal  greediness  of  the  human  mind,  which  is 
indignant  at  having  to  leave  a  place  to  which  it  was  only 
admitted  on  sufferance.  How  far  more  righteous  was  he 
who,  on  hearing  of  the  death  of  his  son,  made  a  speech 
worthy  of  a  great  man,  saying :  "  When  I  begat  him,  I 
knew  that  he  would  die  some  day."  Indeed,  you  need  not 
be  surprised  at  the  son  of  such  a  man  being  able  to  die 
bravely.  He  did  not  receive  the  tidings  of  his  son's  death 
as  news  :  for  what  is  there  new  in  a  man's  dying,  when 
his  whole  life  is  merely  a  journey  towards  death  ?  "  When 
I  begat  him,  I  knew  that  he  would  die  some  day,"  said  he  : 
and  then  he  added,  what  showed  even  more  wisdom  and 
courage,  "  It  was  for  this  that  I  brought  him  up."  It  is 
for  this  that  we  have  all  been  brought  up  :  every  one  who 
is  brought  into  life  is  intended  to  die.  Let  us  enjoy  what 
is  given  to  us,  and  give  it  back  when  it  is  asked  for  :  the 
Fates  lay  their  hands  on  some  men  at  some  times,  and  on 
other  men  at  other  times,  but  they  will  never  pass  any  one 
by  altogether.  Our  mind  ought  always  to  be  on  the  alert, 
and  while  it  ought  never  to  fear  what  is  certain  to  happen, 
it  ought  always  to  be  ready  for  what  may  happen  at  any 
time.  Why  need  I  tell  you  of  generals  and  the  children 
of  generals,  of  men  ennobled  by  many  consulships  and 
triumphs,  who  have  succumbed  to  pitiless  fate  ?  .whole 
kingdoms  together  with  their  kings,  whole  nations  with  all 
their  component  tribes,  have  all  submitted  to  their  doom. 
All  men,  nay,  all  things  look  forward  to  an  end  of  their 
days  :  yet  all  do  not  come  to  the  same  end  :  one  man  loses 
his  life  in  the  midst  of  his  career,  another  at  the  very 
beginning  of  it,  another  seems  hardly  able  to  free  himself 
from  it  when  worn  out  with  extreme  old  age,  and  eager  to 


368  MINOR  DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

be  released  :  we  are  all  going  to  the  same  place,  but  we 
all  go  thither  at  different  times.  I  know  not  whether  it  is 
more  foolish  not  to  know  the  law  of  mortality,  or  more  pre- 
sumptuous to  refuse  to  obey  it.  Come,  take  into  your 
hands  the  poems  ^  of  whichever  you  please  of  those  two 
authors  upon  whom  your  genius  has  expended  so  much 
labour,  whom  you  have  so  well  paraphrased,  that  although 
the  structure  of  the  verse  be  removed,  its  charm  neverthe- 
less is  preserved  ;  for  you  have  transferred  them  from  one 
language  to  another  so  well  as  to  effect  the  most  difficult 
matter  of  all,  that  of  making  all  the  beauties  of  the  original 
reappear  in  a  foreign  speech  :  among  their  works  you  will 
find  no  volume  which  will  not  offer  you  numberless 
instances  of  the  vicissitudes  of  human  life,  of  the  uncer- 
tainty of  events,  and  of  tears  shed  for  various  reasons. 
Read  with  what  fire  you  have  thundered  out  their  swelling 
phrases :  you  will  feel  ashamed  of  suddenly  failing  and  falling 
short  of  the  elevation  of  their  magnificent  language.  Do 
not  commit  the  fault  of  making  every  one,  who  according  to 
his  ability  admires  your  writings,  ask  how  so  frail  a  mind 
can  have  formed  such  stable  and  well-connected  ideas. 

XII.  Turn  yourself  away  from  these  thoughts  which 
torment  you,  and  look  rather  at  those  numerous  and 
powerful  sources  of  consolation  which  you  possess :  look  at 
your  excellent  brothers,  look  at  your  wife  and  your  son.  It  is 
to  guarantee  the  safety  of  all  these  that  Fortune^  has  struck 
you  in  this  this  quarter :  you  have  many  left  in  whom  you  can 
take  oomfort.  Guard  yourself  from  the  shame  of  letting  all 
men  think  that  a  single  grief  has  more  power  with  you  than 
these  many  consolations.  You  see  all  of  them  cast  down  into 
the  same  despondency  as  yourself,  and  you  know  that  they 
cannot  help  you,  nay,  that  on  the  other  hand  they  look  to 

^  See  note  ante,  ch.  viii. 

^  "  Fortune  hath  parted  stakes  with  thee,  in  taking  away  thy  brother, 
and  leaving  thee  all  the  rest  in  securitie  and  safetie." — Lodge. 


GH.  XII.]  POLYBIUS.  369 

you  to  encourage  them  :  wherefore,  the  less  learning  and 
the  less  intellect  they  possess,  the  more  vigorously  you 
ought  to  withstand  the  evil  which  has  fallen  upon  you  all. 
The  very  fact  of  one's  grief  being  shared  by  many  persons 
acts  as  a  consolation,  because  if  it  be  distributed  among 
such  a  number  the  share  of  it  which  falls  upon  you  must 
be  small.  I  shall  never  cease  to  recall  your  thoughts  to 
Caesar.  While  he  governs  the  earth,  and  shows  how  far 
better  the  empire  may  be  maintained  by  kindnesses  than 
by  arms,  while  he  presides  over  the  aifairs  of  mankind, 
there  is  no  danger  of  your  feeling  that  you  have  lost  any- 
thing :  in  this  fact  alone  you  will  find  ample  help  and 
ample  consolation ;  raise  yourself  up,  and  fix  your  eyes 
upon  Caesar  whenever  tears  rise  to  them ;  they  will  become 
dry  on  beholding  that  greatest  and  most  brilliant  light  ; 
his  splendour  will  attract  them  and  firmly  attach  them  to 
himself,  so  that  they  are  able  to  see  nothing  else.  He  whom 
you  behold  both  by  day  and  by  night,  from  whom  your 
mind  never  deviates  to  meaner  matters,  must  occupy  your 
thoughts  and  be  your  defence  against  Fortune ;  indeed,  so 
kind  and  gracious  as  he  is  towards  all  his  followers  that  he 
has  already,  I  doubt  not,  laid  many  healing  balms  upon 
this  wound  of  yours,  and  furnished  you  with  many  antidotes 
for  your  sorrow.  Why,  even  had  he  done  nothing  of  the 
kind,  is  not  the  mere  sight  and  thought  of  Caesar  in  itself 
your  greatest  consolation  ?  May  the  gods  and  goddesses 
long  spare  him  to  the  earth  :  may  he  rival  the  deeds  of  the 
Emperor  Augustus,  and  surpass  him  in  length  of  days  !  as 
long  as  he  remains  among  mortals,  may  he  never  be  re- 
minded that  any  of  his  house  are  mortal :  may  he  train  up 
his  son  by  long  and  faithful  service  to  be  the  ruler  of  the 
Roman  people,  and  see  him  share  his  father's  power  before 
he  succeeds  to  it :  may  the  day  on  which  his  kindred  shall 
claim  him  for  heaven  be  far  distant,  and  may  our  grand- 
children alone  be  alive  to  see  it. 

B  B 


370  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

XIII.  Fortune,  refrain  your  hands  from  him,  and  show 
your  power  over  him  only  in  doing  him  good :  allow  him 
to  heal  the  long  sickness  from  which  mankind  has  suffered  ; 
to  replace  and  restore  whatever  has  been  shattered  by  the 
frenzy  of  our  late  sovereign  :  may  this  star,  which  has  shed 
its  rays  upon  a  world  overthrown  and  cast  into  darkness, 
ever  shine  brightly  :  may  he  give  peace  to  Germany,  open 
Britain  to  us,  and  lead  through  the  city  triumphs,  both 
over  the  nations  whom  his  fathers  conquered,  and  over 
new  ones.  Of  these  his  clemency,  the  first  of  his  many 
virtues,  gives  me  hopes  of  being  a  spectator:  for  he  has 
not  so  utterly  cast  me  down  that  he  will  never  raise  me  up 
again ;  nay,  he  has  not  cast  me  down  at  all ;  rather  he  has 
supported  me  when  I  was  struck  by  evil  fortune  and  was 
tottering,  and  has  gently  used  his  godlike  hand  to  break 
my  headlong  fall :  he  pleaded  with  the  Senate  on  my  behalf, 
and  not  only  gave  me  my  life  but  even  begged  it  for  me. 
He  will  see  to  my  cause  :  let  him  judge  my  cause  to  be  such 
as  he  would  desire ;  let  his  justice  pronounce  it  good  or  his 
clemency  so  regard  it :  his  kindness  to  me  will  be  equal  in 
either  case,  whether  he  knows  me  to  be  innocent  or  chooses 
that  I  should  be  thought  so.  Meanwhile  it  is  a  great  comfort 
to  me  for  my  own  miseries  to  behold  his  pardons  travelling 
throughout  the  world  :  even  from  the  corner  in  which  I  am 
confined  his  mercy  has  unearthed  and  restored  to  light 
many  exiles  who  had  been  buried  and  forgotten  here  for 
long  years,  and  I  have  no  fear  that  I  alone  shall  be  passed 
over  by  it.  He  best  knows  the  time  at  which  he  ought  to 
show  favour  to  each  man  :  I  will  use  my  utmost  efforts  to 
prevent  his  having  to  blush  when  he  comes  to  me.  O  how 
blessed  is  your  clemency,  Caesar,  which  makes  exiles  live 
more  peacefully  during  your  reign  than  princes  did  in  that 
of  Gains  !  We  do  not  tremble  or  expect  the  fatal  stroke 
every  hour,  nor  are  we  terrified  whenever  a  ship  comes  in 
sight :  you  have  set  bounds  to  the  cruelty  of  Fortune  towards 


CH.  XIV.]  POLYBIUS.  371 

US,  and  have  given  us  present  peace  and  hopes  of  a  happier 
future.  You  may  indeed  be  sure  that  those  thunderbolts 
alone  are  just  which  are  worshipped  even  by  those  who  are 
struck  by  them. 

XI Y.  Thus  this  prince,  who  is  the  universal  consoler  of  all 
men,  has,  unless  I  am  altogether  mistaken,  already  revived 
your  spirit  and  applied  more  powerful  remedies  to  so  severe 
a  wound  than  I  can  :  he  has  already  strengthened  you  in 
every  way :  his  singularly  retentive  memory  has  already 
furnished  you  with  all  the  examples  which  will  produce 
tranquillity  :  his  practised  eloquence  has  already  displayed 
before  you  all  the  precepts  of  sages.  No  one  therefore 
could  console  you  as  well  as  he  :  when  he  speaks  his  words 
have  greater  weight,  as  though  they  were  the  utterances  of 
an  oracle :  his  divine  authority  will  crush  all  the  strength 
of  your  grief.  Think,  then,  that  he  speaks  to  you  as  fol- 
lows:— "Fortune  has  not  chosen  you  as  the  only  man  in 
the  world  to  receive  so  severe  a  blow  :  there  is  no  house  in 
all  the  earth,  and  never  has  been  one,  that  has  not  something 
to  mourn  for :  I  will  pass  over  examples  taken  from  the 
common  herd,  which,  while  they  are  of  less  importance,  are 
also  endless  in  number,  and  I  will  direct  your  attention  to 
the  Calendar  and  the  State  Chronicles.  Do  you  see  all 
these  images  which  fill  the  hall  of  the  Caesars  ?  there  is 
not  one  of  these  men  who  was  not  especially  afflicted  by 
domestic  sorrows  :  no  one  of  those  men  who  shine  there  as 
the  ornament  of  the  ages  was  not  either  tortured  by  grief 
for  some  of  his  family  or  most  bitterly  mourned  for  by 
those  whom  he  left  behind.  Why  need  I  remind  you  of 
Scipio  Africanus,  who  heard  the  news  of  his  brother's 
death  when  he  was  himself  in  exile  ?  he  who  saved  his 
brother  from  prison  could  not  save  him  from  his  fate. 
Yet  all  men  saw  how  impatient  Africanus 's  brotherly 
affection  was  even  of  equal  law :  on  the  same  day  on 
which    Scipio   Africanus   rescued    his    brother    from   the 


372  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

hands  of  tlie  apparitor,  he,  although  not  holding  any 
office,  protested  against  the  action  of  the  tribune  of  the 
people.  He  mourned  for  his  brother  as  magnanimously 
as  he  had  defended  him.  Why  need  I  remind  you  of  Scipio 
^milianus,^  who  almost  at  one  and  the  same  time  beheld 
his  father's  triumph  and  the  funeral  of  his  two  brothers  ? 
yet,  although  a  stripling  and  hardly  more  than  a  boy,  he 
bore  the  sudden  bereavement  which  befel  his  family  at  the 
very  time  of  Paulus's  triumph  with  all  the  courage  which 
beseemed  one  who  was  born  that  Rome  might  not  be  with- 
out a  Scipio  and  that  she  might  be  without  a  Carthage. 

XV.  Why  should  I  speak  of  the  intimacy  of  the  two 
LucuUi,  which  was  broken  only  by  their  death  ?  or  of  the 
Pompeii  ?  whom  the  cruelty  of  Fortune  did  not  even  allow 
to  perish  by  the  same  catastrophe  ;  for  Sextus  Pompeius  in 
the  first  place  survived  his  sister,^  by  whose  death  the  firmly 
knit  bond  of  peace  in  the  Roman  empire  was  broken,  and 
he  also  survived  his  noble  brother,  whom  Fortune  had  raised 
so  high  in  order  that  she  might  cast  him  down  from  as  great 
a  height  as  she  had  already  cast  down  his  father ;  yet  after 
this  great  misfortune  Sextus  Pompeius  was  able  not  only 
to  endure  his  grief  but  even  to  make  war.  Innumerable 
instances  occur  to  me  of  brothers  who  were  separated  by 
death :  indeed  on  the  other  hand  we  see  very  few  pairs  of 
brothers  growing  old  together :  however,  I  shall  content 
myself  with  examples  f!rom  my  own  family.  No  one  can 
be  so  devoid  of  feeling  or  of  reason  as  to  complain  of 
Fortune's  having  thrown  him  into  mourning  when  he 
learns  that  she  has  coveted  the  tears  of  the  Caesars  them- 
selves. The  Emperor  Augustus  lost  his  darling  sister 
Octavia,  and  though  Nature  destined  him  for  heaven,  yet 
she  did  not  relax  her  laws  to  spare  him  from  mourning 
while  on  earth:    nay,  he  suffered  every  kind  of  bereave- 

*  See  "On  Benefits,"  v.  16. 

*  Scipio  Africanus  minor,  the  son  of  Paulus  -Emilias. 


CH.  XT.]  POLYBIUS.  373 

ment,  losing  his  sister's  son,^  who  was  intended  to  be  his 
heir.  In  fine,  not  to  mention  his  sorrows  in  detail,  he  lost 
his  son-in-law,  his  children,  and  his  grandchildren,  and, 
while  he  remained  among  men,  no  mortal  was  more  often 
reminded  that  he  was  a  man.  Yet  his  mind,  which  was 
able  to  bear  all  things,  bore  all  these  heavy  sorrows,  and 
the  blessed  Augustus  was  the  conqueror,  not  only  of  foreign 
nations,  but  also  of  his  own  sorrows.  Gains  Caesar,^  the 
grandson  of  the  blessed  Augustus,  my  maternal  great  uncle, 
in  the  first  years  of  manhood,  when  Prince  of  the  Roman 
Youth,  as  he  was  preparing  for  the  Parthian  war,  lost  his 
darling  brother  Lucius^  who  was  also  '  Prince  of  the 
Roman  Youth,'  and  suffered  more  thereby  in  his  mind 
than  he  did  afterwards  in  his  body,  though  he  bore  both 
afflictions  with  the  greatest  piety  and  fortitude.  Tiberius 
Caesar,  my  paternal  uncle,  lost  his  younger  brother  Drusus 
Oermanicus,*  my  father,  when  he  was  opening  out  the 
innermost  fastnesses  of  Germany,  and  bringing  the  fiercest 
tribes  under  the  dominion  of  the  Roman  empire ;  he  em- 
braced him  and  received  his  last  kiss,  but  he  nevertheless 
restrained  not  only  his  own  grief  but  that  of  others,  and 
when  the  whole  army,  not  merely  sorrowful  but  heart- 
broken, claimed  the  corpse  of  their  Drusus  for  themselves, 
he  made  them  grieve  only  as  it  became  Romans  to  grieve, 

^  Marcellus.  See  Virgil's  well-known  lines,  Mn.  VI.,  869,  sqq.,  and 
*'  Consolatio  ad  Marciam,"  2. 

^  G.  Caesar,  d.  at  Limyra,  a.d.  4. 

^  Lucius  Caesar,  d.  at  Marseilles,  a.d.  2. 

^  Drusus  died  by  a  fall  from  his  horse,  B.C.  9.  "  A  monument  was 
erected  in  his  honour  at  Moguntiacum  (Mayence),  and  games  and 
military  spectacles  were  exhibited  there  on  the  anniversary  of  his  death. 
An  altar  had  already  been  raised  in  his  honour  on  the  banks  of  the 
Lippe."  Tac.  Ann.  ii.  7.  "  The  soldiers  began  now  to  regard  themselves 
as  a  distinct  people,  with  rites  and  heroes  of  their  own.  Augustus 
required  them  to  surrender  the  body  of  their  beloved  chief  as  a  matter 
of  discipline."     Merivale,  ch.  3G. 


374  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

and  taught  them  that  they  must  observe  military  discipline 
not  only  in  fighting  but  also  in  mourning.  He  could  not 
have  checked  the  tears  of  others  had  he  not  first  repressed 
his  own. 

XVI.  "  Marcus  Antonius,  my  grandfather,  who  was 
second  to  none  save  his  conqueror,  received  the  news  of  his 
brother's  execution  at  the  very  time  when  the  state  was  at 
his  disposal,  and  when,  as  a  member  of  the  triumvirate,  he 
saw  no  one  in  the  world  superior  to  himself  in  power,  nay, 
when,  with  the  exception  of  his  two  colleagues,  every  man 
was  subordinate  to  himself.  O  wanton  Fortune,  what 
sport  you  make  for  yourself  out  of  human  sorrows !  At 
the  very  time  when  Marcus  Antonius  was  enthroned  with 
power  of  life  and  death  over  his  countrymen,  Marcus 
Antonius 's  brother  was  being  led  to  his  death :  yet 
Antonius  bore  this  cruel  wound  with  the  same  greatness 
of  mind  with  which  he  had  endured  all  his  other  crosses ; 
and  he  mourned  for  his  brother  by  offering  the  blood  of 
twenty  legions  to  his  manes.  However,  to  pass  by  all  other 
instances,  not  to  speak  of  the  other  deaths  which  have 
occurred  in  my  own  house.  Fortune  has  twice  assailed  me 
through  the  death  of  a  brother  ;  she  has  twice  learned  that 
she  could  wound  me  but  could  not  overthrow  me.  I  lost 
my  brother  Germanicus,  whom  I  loved  in  a  manner  which 
any  one  will  understand  if  he  thinks  how  affectionate 
brothers  love  one  another ;  yet  I  so  restrained  my  passion 
of  grief  as  neither  to  leave  undone  anything  which  a  good 
brother  could  be  called  upon  to  do,  nor  yet  to  do  anything 
which  a  sovereign  could  be  blamed  for  doing." 

Think,  then,  that  our  common  parent  quotes  these 
instances  to  you,  and  that  he  points  out  to  you  how 
nothing  is  respected  or  held  inviolable  by  Fortune,  who 
actually  dares  to  send  out  funeral  processions  from  the 
very  house  in  which  she  will  have  to  look  for  gods  :  so  let 
no  one  be  surprised  at  her  committing  any  act  of  cruelty 


CH.  XVII.]  POLYBIUS.  375 

or  injustice  ;  for  how  could  she  show  any  humanity  or 
moderation  in  her  dealings  with  private  families,  when 
her  pitiless  fury  has  so  often  hung  the  very  throne  ^  itself 
with  black  ?  She  will  not  change  her  habits  even  though 
reproached,  not  by  my  voice  alone,  but  by  that  of  the  entire 
nation  :  she  will  hold  on  her  course  in  spite  of  all  prayers 
and  complaints.  Such  has  Fortune  always  been,  and 
such  she  ever  will  be  in  connexion  with  human  affairs  : 
she  has  never  shrunk  from  attacking  anything,  and  she 
will  never  let  anything  alone  :  she  will  rage  everywhere 
terribly,  as  she  has  always  been  wont  to  do :  she  will  dare 
to  enter  for  evil  purposes  into  those  houses  whose  entrance 
lies  through  the  temples  of  the  gods,  and  will  hang  signs 
of  mourning  upon  laurelled  door-posts.  However,  if  she  has 
not  yet  determined  to  destroy  the  human  race :  if  she  still 
looks  with  favour  upon  the  Roman  nation,  may  our  public 
and  private  prayers  prevail  upon  her  to  regard  as  sacred 
from  her  violence  this  prince,  whom  all  men  think  to  be 
sacred,  who  has  been  granted  them  by  heaven  to  give  them 
rest  after  their  misfortunes  :  let  her  learn  clemency  from 
him,  and  let  the  mildest  of  all  sovereigns  teach  her 
mildness. 

XVII.  You  ought,  therefore,  to  fix  your  eyes  upon  all 
the  persons  whom  I  have  just  mentioned,  who  have  either 
been  deified  or  were  nearly  related  to  those  who  have  been 
deified,  and  when  Fortune  lays  her  hands  upon  you  to  bear 
it  calmly,  seeing  that  she  does  not  even  respect  those  by 
whose  names  we  swear.  It  is  your  duty  to  imitate  their 
constancy  in  enduring  and  triumphing  over  suffering,  as 
far  as  it  is  permitted  to  a  mere  man  to  follow  in  the  footsteps 
of  the  immortals.  Albeit  in  all  other  matters  rank  and 
birth  make  great  distinctions  between  men,  yet  virtue  is 
open  to  all ;  she  despises  no  one  provided  he  thinks  himself 

'  Pulvinaria.     See  note,  ch.  xvii. 


376  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

worthy  to  possess  her.  Surely  you  cannot  do  better  than 
follow  the  example  of  those  who,  though  they  might  have 
been  angry  at  not  being  exempt  from  this  evil,  nevertheless 
have  decided  to  regard  this,  the  only  thing  which  brings 
them  down  to  the  level  of  other  men,  not  as  a  wrong  done 
to  themselves,  but  as  the  law  of  our  mortal  nature,  and  to 
bear  what  befals  them  without  undue  bitterness  and  wrath, 
and  yet  in  no  base  or  cowardly  spirit :  for  it  is  not  human 
not  to  feel  our  sorrows,  while  it  is  unmanly  not  to  bear 
them.  When  I  glance  through  the  roll  of  all  the  Caesars 
whom  fate  has  bereaved  of  sisters  or  brothers,  I  cannot 
pass  over  that  one  who  is  unworthy  to  figure  on  the  list  of 
Caesars,  whom  Nature  produced  to  be  the  ruin  and  the 
shame  of  the  human  race,  who  utterly  wrecked  and  destroyed 
the  state  which  is  now  recovering  under  the  gentle  rule  of 
the  most  benign  of  princes.  On  losing  his  sister  Drusilla, 
Gains  Caesar,  a  man  who  could  neither  mourn  nor  rejoice 
as  becomes  a  prince,  shrank  from  seeing  and  speaking  to 
his  countrymen,  was  not  present  at  his  sister's  funeral,  did 
not  pay  her  the  conventional  tribute  of  respect,  but  tried 
to  forget  the  sorrows  caused  by  this  most  distressing  death 
by  playing  at  dice  in  his  Alban  villa,  and  by  sitting  on 
the  judgment-seat,  and  the  like  customary  engagements. 
What  a  disgrace  to  the  Empire!  a  Roman  emperor 
solaced  himself  by  gambling  for  his  grief  at  the  loss  of 
his  sister !  This  same  Gains,  with  frantic  levity,  at 
one  time  let  his  beard  and  hair  grow  long,  at  another 
wandered  aimlessly  along  the  coast  of  Italy  and  Sicily. 
He  never  clearly  made  up  his  mind  whether  he  wished  his 
sister  to  be  mourned  for  or  to  be  worshipped,  and  during 
all  the  time  that  he  was  raising  temples  and  shrines  ^  in 
her  honour  he  punished  those  who  did  not  manifest  suffi- 

^  Pulvinaria.  This  word  properly  means  "  a  couch  made  of  cushions, 
and  spread  over  with  a  splendid  covering,  for  the  gods  or  persons  who 
received  divine  honours. " 


CH.  XVIII.]  POLTBIUS.  377 

cient  sorrow  with  the  most  cruel  tortures :  ^  for  his  mind 
was  so  ill-balanced,  that  he  was  as  much  cast  down  by 
adversity  as  he  was  unbecomingly  elated  and  puffed  up  by 
success.  Ear  be  it  from  every  Roman  to  follow  such  an 
example,  either  to  divert  his  mind  from  his  grief  by  un- 
reasonable amusements,  to  stimulate  it  by  unseemly  squalor 
and  neglect,  or  to  be  so  inhuman  as  to  console  himself  by 
taking  pleasure  in  the  sufferings  of  others. 

XYIII.  You,  however,  need  change  none  of  your  ordinary 
habits,  since  you  have  taught  yourself  to  love  those  studies 
which,  while  they  are  pre-eminently  fitted  for  perfecting 
our  happiness,  at  the  same  time  teach  us  how  we  may  bear 
misfortune  most  lightly,  and  which  are  at  the  same  time 
a  man's  greatest  honour  and  greatest  comfort.  Now,  there- 
fore, immerse  yourself  even  more  deeply  in  your  studies, 
now  surround  your  mind  with  them  like  fortifications,  so 
that  grief  may  not  find  any  place  at  which  it  can  gain 
entrance.  At  the  same  time,  prolong  the  remembrance  of 
your  brother  by  inserting  some  memoir  of  him  among  your 
other  writings  :  for  that  is  the  only  sort  of  monument  that 
can  be  erected  by  man  which  no  storm  can  injure,  no  time 
destroy.  The  others,  which  consist  of  piles  of  stone,  masses 
of  marble,  or  huge  mounds  of  earth  heaped  on  high,  cannot 
preserve  his  memory  for  long,  because  they  themselves 
perish;  but  the  memorials  which  genius  raises  are  ever- 
lasting. Lavish  these  upon  your  brother,  embalm  him  in 
these :  you  will  do  better  to  immortalise  him  by  an  ever- 
lasting work  of  genius  than  to  mourn  over  him  with  useless 
grief.     As  for  Fortune  herself,  although  I  cannot  just  now 

^  Merivale,  following  Suetonius  and  Dion  Cassius,  says :  "  He  declared 
that  if  any  man  dared  to  mourn  for  his  sister's  death,  he  should  be 
punished,  for  she  had  become  a  goddess  :  if  any  one  ventured  to  rejoice 
at  her  deification,  he  should  be  punished  also,  for  she  was  dead."  The 
passage  in  the  text,  he  remarks,  gives  a  less  extravagant  turn  to  the 
story. 


378  MINOR   DIALOGUES.  [bK.  XII. 

plead  her  cause  before  you,  because  all  that  she  has  given 
us  is  now  hateful  to  you,  because  she  has  taken  something 
away  from  you,  yet  I  will  plead  her  cause  as  soon  as  time 
shall  have  rendered  you  a  more  impartial  judge  of  her 
action  :  indeed  she  has  bestowed  much  upon  you  to  make 
amends  for  the  injury  which  she  has  done  you,  and  she 
will  give  more  hereafter  by  way  of  atonement  for  it  :  and, 
after  all,  it  was  she  herself  who  gave  you  this  brother  whom 
she  has  taken  away.  Forbear,  then,  to  display  your 
abilities  against  your  own  self,  or  to  take  part  with  your 
grief  against  yourself :  your  eloquence,  can,  no  doubt,  make 
trifles  appear  great,  and,  conversely,  can  disparage  and  de- 
preciate great  things  until  they  seem  the  merest  trifles ; 
but  let  it  reserve  those  powers  and  use  them  on  some  other 
subject,  and  at  the  present  time  devote  its  entire  strength 
to  the  task  of  consoling  you.  Yet  see  whether  even  this 
task  be  not  unnecessary.  Nature  demands  from  us  a  certain 
amount  of  grief,  our  imagination  adds  some  more  to  it ; 
but  I  will  never  forbid  you  to  mourn  at  all.  I  know, 
indeed,  that  there  are  some  men,  whose  wisdom  is  of  a 
harsh  rather  than  a  brave  character,  who  say  that  the 
wise  man  never  would  mourn.  It  seems  to  rae  that  they 
never  can  have  been  in  the  position  of  mourners,  for  other- 
wise their  misfortune  would  have  shaken  all  their  haughty 
philosophy  out  of  them,  and,  however  much  against  their 
will,  would  have  forced  them  to  confess  their  sorrow. 
Reason  will  have  done  enough  if  she  does  but  cut  off 
from  our  grief  all  that  is  superfluous  and  useless  :  as  for 
her  not  allowing  us  to  grieve  at  all,  that  we  ought  neither 
to  expect  nor  to  wish  for.  Let  her  rather  restrain  us 
within  the  bounds  of  a  chastened  grief,  which  partakes: 
neither  of  indifference  nor  of  madness,  and  let  her  keep  our  1 
minds  in  that  attitude  which  becomes  affection  without' 
excitement :  let  your  tears  flow,  but  let  them  some  day 
cease  to  flow  :  groan  as  deeply  as  you  will,  but  let  your 


CH.  XTIII.]  POLYBIUS.  379 

groans  cease  some  day :  regulate  your  conduct  so  that  both 
philosophers  and  brothers  may  approve  of  it.  Make  yourself 
feel  pleasure  in  often  thinking  about  your  brother,  talk 
constantly  about  him,  and  keep  him  ever  present  in  your 
memory  ;  which  you  cannot  succeed  in  doing  unless  you 
make  the  remembrance  of  him  pleasant  rather  than  sad : 
for  it  is  but  natural  that  the  mind  should  shrink  from  a 
subject  which  it  cannot  contemplate  without  sadness. 
Think  of  his  retiring  disposition,  of  his  abilities  for  business, 
his  diligence  in  carrying  it  out,  his  loyalty  to  his  word. 
Tell  other  men  of  all  his  sayings  and  doings,  and  remind 
your  own  self  of  them :  think  how  good  he  was  and  how 
great  you  hoped  he  might  become :  for  what  success  is 
there  which  you  might  not  safely  have  wagered  that  such 
a  brother  would  win  ? 

I  have  thrown  together  these  reflexions  in  the  best  way 
that  I  could,  for  my  mind  is  dimmed  and  stupefied  with 
the  tedium  of  my  long  exile :  if,  therefore,  you  should  find 
them  unworthy  of  the  consideration  of  a  person  of  your 
intelligence,  or  unable  to  console  you  in  your  grief,  re- 
member how  impossible  it  is  for  one  who  is  full  of  his  own 
sorrows  to  find  time  to  minister  to  those  of  others,  and  how 
hard  it  is  to  express  oneself  in  the  Latin  language,  when 
all  around  one  hears  nothing  but  a  rude  foreign  jargon, 
which  even  barbarians  of  the  more  civilised  sort  regard 
with  disgust. 


380 


THE  FIRST  BOOK  OF  THE  DIALOGUE  OF  L.  ANNAEUS 
SENECA,  ADDRESSED  TO  NERO  CiESAR. 

ON  CLEMENCY. 
I. 

T  HAYE  determined  to  write  a  book  upon  clemency, 
-^  Nero  Caesar,  in  order  that  I  may  as  it  were  serve  as  a 
mirror  to  you,  and  let  you  see  yourself  arriving  at  the 
greatest  of  all  pleasures.  For  although  the  true  enjoyment 
of  good  deeds  consists  in  the  performance  of  them,  and 
virtues  have  no  adequate  reward  beyond  themselves,  still 
it  is  worth  your  while  to  consider  and  investigate  a  good 
conscience  from  every  point  of  view,  and  afterwards  to 
cast  your  eyes  upon  this  enormous  mass  of  mankind — 
quarrelsome,  factious,  and  passionate  as  they  are;  likely,  if 
they  could  throw  oif  the  yoke  of  your  government,  to  take 
pleasure  alike  in  the  ruin  of  themselves  and  of  one  another 
— and  thus  to  commune  with  yourself : — "  Have  I  of  all 
mankind  been  chosen  and  thought  fit  to  perform  the  office 
of  a  god  upon  earth  ?  I  am  the  arbiter  of  life  and  death 
to  mankind  :  it  rests  with  me  to  decide  what  lot  and  posi- 
tion in  life  each  man  possesses  :  fortune  makes  use  of  my 
mouth  to  announce  what  she  bestows  on  each  man :  cities 
and  nations  are  moved  to  joy  by  my  words  :  no  region 


CH.  I.]  ON   CLEMENCY.  381 

anywhere  can  flourish  without  mj  favour  and  good  will : 
all  these  thousands  of  swords  now  restrained  by  my  autho- 
rity, would  be  drawn  at  a  sign  from  me  :  it  rests  with  me 
to  decide  which  tribes  shall  be  utterly  exterminated,  which 
shall  be  moved  into  other  lands,  which  shall  receive  and 
which  shall  be  deprived  of  liberty,  what  kings  shall  be 
reduced  to  slavery  and  whose  heads  shall  be  crowned, 
what  cities  shall  be  destroyed  and  what  new  ones  shall  be 
founded.  In  this  position  of  enormous  power  I  am  not 
tempted  to  punish  men  unjustly  by  anger,  by  youthful  im- 
pulse, by  the  recklessness  and  insolence  of  men,  which  often 
overcomes  the  patience  even  of  the  best  regulated  minds, 
not  even  that  terrible  vanity,  so  common  among  great  sove- 
reigns, of  displaying  my  power  by  inspiring  terror.  My  sword 
is  sheathed,  nay,  fixed  in  its  sheath  :  I  am  sparing  of  the 
blood  even  of  the  lowest  of  my  subjects  :  a  man  who  has 
nothing  else  to  recommend  him,  will  nevertheless  find 
favour  in  my  eyes  because  he  is  a  man.  I  keep  harshness 
concealed,  but  I  have  clemency  always  at  hand :  I  watch 
myself  as  carefully  as  though  I  had  to  give  an  account  of 
my  actions  to  those  laws  which  I  have  brought  out  of 
darkness  and  neglect  into  the  light  of  day.  I  have  been 
moved  to  compassion  by  the  youth  of  one  culprit,  and  the 
age  of  another :  I  have  spared  one  man  because  of  his 
great  place,  another  on  account  of  his  insignificance :  when  I 
could  find  no  reason  for  showing  mercy,  I  have  had  mercy 
upon  myself.  I  am  prepared  this  day,  should  the  gods  de- 
mand it,  to  render  to  them  an  account  of  the  human  race." 
You,  Caesar,  can  boldly  say  that  everything  which  has  come 
into  your  charge  has  been  kept  safe,  and  that  the  state 
has  neither  openly  nor  secretly  suffered  any  loss  at  your 
hands.  You  have  coveted  a  glory  which  is  most  rare,  and 
which  has  been  obtained  by  no  emperor  before  you,  that  of 
innocence.  Your  remarkable  goodness  is  not  thrown  away, 
nor  is  it  ungratefully  or  spitefully  undervalued.     Men  feel 


382  ON   CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I. 

gratitude  towards  you  :  no  one  person  ever  was  so  dear  to 
another  as  you  are  to  the  people  of  Rome,  whose  great  and 
enduring  benefit  you  are.  You  have,  however,  taken  upon 
yourself  a  mighty  burden:  no  one  any  longer  speaks  of  the 
good  times  of  the  late  Emperor  Augustus,  or  the  first  years 
of  the  reign  of  Tiberius,  or  proposes  for  your  imitation 
any  model  outside  yourself  :  yours  is  a  pattern  reign. 
This  would  have  been  difficult  had  your  goodness  of  heart 
not  been  innate,  but  merely  adopted  for  a  time ;  for  no  one 
can  wear  a  mask  for  long,  and  fictitious  qualities  soon  give 
place  to  true  ones.  Those  which  are  founded  upon  truth, 
and  which,  so  to  speak,  grow  out  of  a  solid  basis,  only 
become  greater  and  better  as  time  goes  on.  The  Roman 
people  were  in  a  state  of  great  hazard  as  long  as  it  was 
uncertain  how  your  generous  ^  disposition  would  turn  out ; 
now,  however,  the  prayers  of  the  community  are  sure  of 
an  answer,  for  there  is  no  fear  that  you  should  suddenly 
forget  your  own  character.  Indeed,  excess  of  happiness 
makes  men  greedy,  and  our  desires  are  never  so  moderate  as 
to  be  bounded  by  what  they  have  obtained  :  great  successes 
become  the  stepping-stones  to  greater  ones,  and  those  who 
have  obtained  more  than  they  hoped,  entertain  even  more 
extravagant  hopes  than  before ;  yet  by  all  your  country- 
men we  hear  it  admitted  that  they  are  now  happy,  and 
moreover,  that  nothing  can  be  added  to  the  blessings  that 
they  enjoy,  except  that  they  should  be  eternal.  Many 
circumstances  force  this  admission  from  them,  although  it 
is  the  one  which  men  are  least  willing  to  make  :  we  enjoy 
a  profound  and  prosperous  peace,  the  power  of  the  law  has 
been  openly  asserted  in  the  sight  of  all  men,  and  raised 
beyond  the  reach  of  any  violent  interference  :  the  form  of 
our  government  is  so  happy,  as  to  contain  all  the  essentials 
of  liberty  except  the  power  of  destroying  itself.      It  is 

^  Nohilis. 


CH.  III.]  ON   CLEMENCY.  383 

nevertheless  your  clemencj  which  is  most  especially  ad- 
mired by  the  high  and  low  alike  :  every  man  enjoys  or 
hopes  to  enjoy  the  other  blessings  of  your  rule  according 
to  the  measure  of  his  own  personal  good  fortune,  whereas 
from  yonr  clemency  all  hope  alike :  no  one  has  so  much 
confidence  in  his  own  innocence,  as  not  to  feel  glad  that  in 
your  presence  stands  a  clemency  which  is  ready  to  make 
allowance  for  human  errors. 

II.  I  know,  however,  that  there  are  some  who  imagine 
that  clemency  only  saves  the  life  of  every  villain,  because 
clemency  is  useless  except  after  conviction,  and  alone  of  all 
the  virtues  has  no  function  among  the  innocent.  But  in 
the  first  place,  although  a  physician  is  only  useful  to  the 
sick,  yet  he  is  held  in  honour  among  the  healthy  also  ;  and 
so  clemency,  though  she  be  invoked  by  those  who  deserve 
punishment,  is  respected  by  innocent  people  as  well.  Next, 
she  can  exist  also  in  the  person  of  the  innocent,  because 
sometimes  misfortune  takes  the  place  of  crime;  indeed, 
clemency  not  only  succours  the  innocent,  but  often  the 
virtuous,  since  in  the  course  of  time  it  happens  that  men 
are  punished  for  actions  which  deserve  praise.  Besides 
this,  there  is  a  large  part  of  mankind  which  might  return 
to  virtue  if  the  hope  of  pardon  were  not  denied  them.  Yet 
it  is  not  right  to  pardon  indiscriminately ;  for  when  no 
distinction  is  made  between  good  and  bad  men,  disorder 
follows,  and  all  vices  break  forth  ;  we  must  therefore  take 
care  to  distinguish  those  characters  which  admit  of  reform 
from  those  which  are  hopelessly  depraved.  Neither  ought 
we  to  show  an  indiscriminate  and  general,  nor  yet  an  exclu- 
sive clemency ;  for  to  pardon  every  one  is  as  great  cruelty  as 
to  pardon  none  ;  we  must  take  a  middle  course  ;  but  as  it  is 
difficult  to  find  the  true  mean,  let  us  be  careful,  if  we  depart 
from  it,  to  do  so  upon  the  side  of  humanity. 

III.  But  these  matters  will  be  treated  of  better  in  their 
own  place.     I  will  now  divide  this   whole   subject   into 


384  ON   CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I. 

three  parts.  The  first  will  be  of  gentleness  of  temper  :  ^  the 
second  will  be  that  which  explains  the  nature  and  disposi- 
tion of  clemency;  for  since  there  are  certain  vices  which 
have  the  semblance  of  virtue,  they  cannot  be  separated 
unless  you  stamp  upon  them  the  marks  which  distinguish 
them  from  one  another  :  in  the  third  place  we  shall  inquire 
how  the  mind  may  be  led  to  practise  this  virtue,  how  it  may 
strengthen  it,  and  by  habit  make  it  its  own. 

That  clemency,  which  is  the  most  humane  of  virtues,  is 
that  which  best  befits  a  man,  is  necessarily  an  axiom,  not 
only  among  our  own  sect,  which  regards  man  as  a  social 
animal,  born  for  the  good  of  the  whole  community,  but 
even  among  those  philosophers  who  give  him  up  entirely 
to  pleasure,  and  whose  words  and  actions  have  no  other 
aim  than  their  own  personal  advantage.  If  man,  as  they 
argue,  seeks  for  quiet  and  repose,  what  virtue  is  there 
which  is  more  agreeable  to  his  nature  than  clemency,  which 
loves  peace  and  restrains  him  from  violence  ?  Now  clemency 
becomes  no  one  more  than  a  king  or  a  prince ;  for  great 
power  is  glorious  and  admirable  only  when  it  is  beneficent; 
since  to  be  powerful  only  for  mischief  is  the  power  of  a 
pestilence.  That  man's  greatness  alone  rests  upon  a  secure 
foundation,  whom  all  men  know  to  be  as  much  on  their 
side  as  he  is  above  them,  of  whose  watchful  care  for  the 
safety  of  each  and  all  of  them  they  receive  daily  proofs,  at 
whose  approach  they  do  not  fly  in  terror,  as  though  some 
evil  and  dangerous  animal  had  sprung  out  from  its  den, 
but  flock  to  him  as  they  would  to  the  bright  and  health- 
giving  sunshine.  They  are  perfectly  ready  to  fling  them- 
selves upon  the  swords  of  conspirators  in  his  defence,  to 
offer  their  bodies  if  his  only  path  to  safety  must  be  formed 
of  corpses  :  they  protect  his  sleep  by  nightly  watches,  they 

^  The  text  is  corrupt.  I  have  followed  Gertz's  conjectural  emendation, 
mansuefactionis,  but  I  believe  that  Lipsius  is  right  in  thinking  that  a 
great  deal  more  than  one  word  has  been  lost  here. 


CH.  IV.]  ON   CLEMENCY.  385 

surronnd  him  and  defend  him  on  every  side,  and  expose 
themselves  to  the  dangers  which  menace  him.  It  is  not  with- 
out good  reason  that  nations  and  cities  thus  agree  in  sacri- 
ficing their  Hves  and  property  for  the  defence  and  the  love  of 
their  king  whenever  their  leader's  safety  demands  it ;  men 
do  not  hold  themselves  cheap,  nor  are  they  insane  when  so 
many  thousands  are  put  to  the  sword  for  the  sake  of  one 
man,  and  when  by  so  many  deaths  they  save  the  life  of  one 
man  alone,  who  not  unfrequently  is  old  and  feeble.  Just  as 
the  entire  body  is  commanded  by  the  mind,  and  although  the 
body  be  so  much  larger  and  more  beautiful  while  the  mind 
is  impalpable  and  hidden,  and  we  are  not  certain  as  to 
where  it  is  concealed,  yet  the  hands,  feet,  and  eyes  work 
for  it,  the  skin  protects  it ;  at  its  bidding  we  either  lie 
still  or  move  restlessly  about;  when  it  gives  the  word,  if  it 
be  an  avaricious  master,  we  scour  the  sea  in  search  of 
gain,  or  if  it  be  ambitious  we  straightway  place  our  right 
hand  in  the  flames  like  Mucins,  or  leap  into  the  pit  like 
Cnrtius,  so  likewise  this  enormous  multitude  which  sur- 
rounds one  man  is  directed  by  his  will,  is  guided  by  his 
intellect,  and  would  break  and  hurl  itself  into  ruin  by  its 
own  strength,  if  it  were  not  upheld  by  his  wisdom. 

lY.  Men  therefore  love  their  own  safety,  when  they 
draw  up  vast  legions  in  battle  on  behalf  of  one  man,  when 
they  rush  to  the  front,  and  expose  their  breasts  to  wounds, 
for  fear  that  their  leader's  standards  should  be  driven  back. 
He  is  the  bond  which  fastens  the  commonwealth  together, 
he  is  the  breath  of  life  to  all  those  thousands,  who  by 
themselves  would  become  merely  an  encumbrance  and  a 
source  of  plunder  if  that  directing  mind  were  withdrawn : — 

.     Bees  have  but  one  mind,  till  their  king  doth  die, 
But  when  he  dies,  disorderly  they  fly. 

Such  a  misfortune  will  be  the  end  of  the  peace  of  Rome, 
it  will  wreck  the  prosperity  of  this  great  people  ;  the  nation 

C  C 


386  ON   CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I. 

will  be  free  from  this  danger  as  long  as  it  knows  how  to 
endure  the  reins :  should  it  ever  break  them,  or  refuse  to 
have  them  replaced  if  they  were  to  fall  ofE  by  accident,  then 
this  mighty  whole,  this  complex  fabric  of  government 
will  fly  asunder  into  many  fragments,  and  the  last  day  of 
Rome's  empire  will  be  that  upon  which  it  forgets  how 
to  obey.  For  this  reason  we  need  not  wonder  that  princes, 
kings,  and  all  other  protectors  of  a  state,  whatever  their 
titles  may  be,  should  be  loved  beyond  the  circle  of  their 
immediate  relatives;  for  since  right-thinking  men  prefer 
the  interests  of  the  state  to  their  own,  it  follows  that 
he  who  bears  the  burden  of  state  affairs  must  be  dearer 
to  them  than  their  own  friends.  Indeed,  the  emperor 
long  ago  identified  himself  so  thoroughly  with  the  state, 
that  neither  of  them  could  be  separated  without  injury 
to  both,  because  the  one  requires  power,  while  the  other 
requires  a  head. 

Y.  My  argument  seems  to  have  wandered  somewhat  far 
from  the  subject,  but,  by  Hercules,  it  really  is  very  much 
to  the  point.  For  if,  as  we  may  infer  from  what  has  been 
said,  you  are  the  soul  of  the  state,  and  the  state  is  your 
body,  you  will  perceive,  I  imagine,  how  necessary  cle- 
mency is  ;  for  when  you  appear  to  spare  another,  you 
are  really  sparing  yourself.  You  ought  therefore  to  spare 
even  blameworthy  citizens,'  just  as  you  spare  weakly 
limbs ;  and  when  blood-letting  becomes  necessary,  you 
must  hold  your  hand,  lest  you  should  cut  deeper  than 
you  need.  Clemency  therefore,  as  I  said  before,  naturally 
befits  all  mankind,  but  more  especially  rulers,  because  in 
their  case  there  is  more  for  it  to  save,  and  it  is  dis- 
played upon  a  greater  scale.  Cruelty  in  a  private  man 
can  do  but  very  little  harm ;  but  the  ferocity  of  princes 
is  war.  Although  there  is  a  harmony  between  all  the 
virtues,  and  no  one  is  better  or  more  honourable  than 
another,  yet  some  virtues  befit  some  persons  better  than 


GH.  Y.]  ON   CLEMENCT.  387 

others.  Magnanimity  befits  all  mortal  men,  even  the 
humblest  of  all ;  for  what  can  be  greater  or  braver  than  to 
resist  ill  fortune  ?  Yet  this  virtue  of  magnanimity  occu- 
pies a  wider  room  in  prosperity,  and  shows  to  greater 
advantage  on  the  judgment  seat  than  on  the  floor  of 
the  court.  On  the  other  hand,  clemency  renders  every 
house  into  which  it  is  admitted  happy  and  peaceful  ;  but 
though  it  is  more  rare,  it  is  on  that  account  even  more 
admirable  in  a  palace.  What  can  be  more  remarkable 
than  that  he  whose  anger  might  be  indulged  without  fear 
of  the  consequences,  whose  decision,  even  though  a  harsh 
one,  would  be  approved  even  by  those  who  were  to  suffer 
by  it,  whom  no  one  can  interrupt,  and  of  whom  indeed, 
should  he  become  violently  enraged,  no  one  would  dare  to 
beg  for  mercy,  should  apply  a  check  to  himself  and  use 
his  power  in  a  better  and  calmer  spirit,  reflecting:  "Any 
one  may  break  the  law  to  kill  a  man,  no  one  but  I  can 
break  it  to  save  him  "  ?  A  great  position  requires  a  great 
mind,  for  unless  the  mind  raises  itself  to  and  even  above 
the  level  of  its  station,  it  will  degrade  its  station  and  draw 
it  down  to  the  earth;  now  it  is  the  property  of  a  great 
mind  to  be  calm  and  tranquil  and  to  look  down  upon 
outrages  and  insults  with  contempt.  It  is  a  womanish 
thing  to  rage  with  passion  ;  it  is  the  part  of  wild  beasts,  and 
that,  too,  not  of  the  most  noble  ones,  to  bite  and  worry  the 
fallen.  Elephants  and  lions  pass  by  those  whom  they  have 
struck  down  ;  inveteracy  is  the  quality  of  ignoble  animals. 
Fierce  and  implacable  rage  does  not  befit  a  king,  because 
he  does  not  preserve  his  superiority  over  the  man  to  whose 
level  he  descends  by  indulging  im  rage ;  but  if  he  grants 
their  lives  and  honours  to  those  who  are  in  jeopardy  and 
who  deserve  to  lose  them,  he  does  what  can  only  be  done 
by  an  absolute  ruler ;  for  life  may  be  torn  away  even  from 
those  who  are  above  us  in  station,  but  can  never  be  granted 
save  to  those  who  are  below  us.     To   save   men's  lives 


<388  ON   CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I. 

is  the  privilege  of  the  loftiest  station,  which  never  de- 
serves admiration  so  mnch  as  when  it  is  able  to  act  like 
the  gods,  by  whose  kindness  good  and  bad  men  alike  are 
brought  into  the  world.  Thus  a  prince,  imitating  the 
mind  of  a  god,  ought  to  look  with  pleasure  on  some  of  his 
countrymen  because  they  are  useful  and  good  men,  while 
he  ought  to  allow  others  to  remain  to  fill  up  the  roll ;  he 
ought  to  be  pleased  with  the  existence  of  the  former, 
and  to  endure  that  of  the  latter. 

VI.  Look  at  this  city  of  Rome,  in  which  the  widest 
streets  become  choked  whenever  anything  stops  the 
crowds  which  unceasingly  pour  through  them  like  raging 
torrents,  in  which  the  people  streaming  to  three  theatres 
demand  the  roads  at  the  same  time,  in  which  the  produce 
of  the  entire  world  is  consumed,  and  reflect  what  a  de- 
solate waste  it  would  become  if  only  those  were  left  in 
it  whom  a  strict  judge  would  acquit.  How  few  magis- 
trates are  there  who  ought  not  to  be  condemned  by  the 
very  same  laws  which  they  administer  ?  How  few  prose- 
cutors are  themselves  faultless  ?  I  imagine,  also,  that  few 
men  are  less  willing  to  grant  pardon,  than  those  who  have 
often  had  to  beg  it  for  themselves.  We  have  all  of  us 
sinned,  some  more  deeply  than  others,  some  of  set  purpose, 
some  either  by  chance  impulse  or  led  away  by  the  wicked- 
ness of  others ;  some  of  us  have  not  stood  bravely  enough 
by  our  good  resolutions,  and  have  lost  our  innocence,  al- 
though unwillingly  and  after  a  struggle ;  nor  have  we  only 
sinned,  but  to  the  very  end  of  our  lives  we  shall  continue 
to  sin.  Even  if  there  be  any  one  who  has  so  thoroughly 
cleansed  his  mind  that  nothing  can  hereafter  throw  him 
into  disorder  or  deceive  him,  yet  even  he  has  reached  this 
state  of  innocence  through  sin. 

YII.  Since  I  have  made  mention  of  the  gods,  I  shall 
state  the  best  model  on  which  a  prince  may  mould  his  life 
to  be,  that  he  deal  with  his  countrymen  as  he  would  that 


CH.  YIII.]  ON    CLEMENCY.  389 

the  gods  may  deal  with  himself.  Is  it  then  desirable  that 
the  gods  should  show  no  mercy  upon  sins  and  mistakes, 
and  that  they  should  harshly  pursue  us  to  our  ruin  ?  In 
that  case  what  king  will  be  safe  ?  Whose  limbs  will  not 
be  torn  asunder  and  collected  by  the  soothsayers  ?  If,  on 
the  other  hand,  the  gods  are  placable  and  kind,  and  do  not 
at  once  avenge  the  crimes  of  the  powerful  with  thunder- 
bolts, is  it  not  far  more  just  that  a  man  set  in  authority 
over  other  men  should  exercise  his  power  in  a  spirit  of 
clemency  and  should  consider  whether  the  condition  of  the 
world  is  more  beauteous  and  pleasant  to  the  eyes  on  a  fine 
calm  day,  or  when  everything  is  shaken  with  frequent 
thunder-claps  and  when  lightning  flashes  on  all  sides  ! 
Yefc  the  appearance  of  a  peaceful  and  constitutional  reign 
is  the  same  as  that  of  the  calm  and  brilliant  sky.  A  cruel 
feign  is  disordered  and  hidden  in  darkness,  and  while  all 
shake  with  terror  at  the  sudden  explosions,  not  even  he 
who  caused  all  this  disturbance  escapes  unharmed.  It  is 
easier  to  find  excuses  for  private  men  who  obstinately 
claim  their  rights ;  possibly  they  may  have  been  injured, 
and  their  rage  may  spring  from  their  wrongs  ;  besides  this, 
they  fear  to  be  despised,  and  not  to  return  the  injuries 
which  they  have  received  looks  like  weakness  rather  than 
clemency;  but  one  who  can  easily  avenge  himself,  if  he 
neglects  to  do  so,  is  certain  to  gain  praise  for  goodness  of 
heart.  Those  who  are  born  in  a  humble  station  may  with 
greater  freedom  exercise  violence,  go  to  law,  engage  in 
quarrels,  and  indulge  their  angry  passions ;  even  blows 
count  for  little  between  two  equals ;  but  in  the  case  of  a 
king,  even  loud  clamour  and  unmeasured  talk  are  unbe- 
coming. 

YIII.  You  think  it  a  serious  matter  to  take  away  from 
kings  the  right  of  free  speech  which  the  humblest  enjoy. 
*'  This,"  you  say,  *'  is  to  be  a  subject,  not  a  king."  What, 
do  you  not  find  that  we  have  the  command,  you  the  sub- 


390  ON    CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I* 

jection  ?  Yonr  position  is  quite  different  to  that  of  those  who 
lie  hid  in  the  crowd  which  they  never  leave,  whose  very 
virtnes  cannot  be  manifested  without  a  long  struggle,  and 
whose  vices  are  shrouded  in  obscurity ;  rumour  catches  up 
your  acts  and  sayings,  and  therefore  no  persons  ought  to  be 
more  careful  of  their  reputation  than  those  who  are  certain 
to  have  a  great  one,  whatsoever  one  they  may  have  deserved. 
How  raany  things  there  are  that  you  may  not  do  which, 
thanks  to  you,  we  may  do  !  I  am  able  to  walk  alone  without 
fear  in  any  part  of  Rome  whatever,  although  no  companion 
accompanies  me,  though  there  is  no  guard  at  my  house  no 
sword  by  my  side.  You  must  live  armed  in  the  peace  which 
you  maintain.^  You  cannot  stray  away  from  your  position  ; 
it  besets  you,  and  follows  you  with  mighty  pomp  wherever 
you  go.  This  slavery  of  not  being  able  to  sink  one's  rank 
belongs  to  the  highest  position  of  all ;  yet  it  is  a  burden 
which  you  share  with  the  gods.  They  too  are  held  fast  in 
heaven,  and  it  is  no  more  possible  for  them  to  come  down 
than  it  is  safe  ^  for  you  ;  you  are  chained  to  your  lofty 
pinnacle.  Of  our  movements  few  persons  are  aware ;  we 
can  go  forth  and  return  home  and  change  our  dress  without 
its  being  publicly  known ;  but  you  are  no  more  able  to  hide 
yourself  than  the  sun.  A  strong  light  is  all  around  you^ 
the  eyes  of  all  are  turned  towards  it.  Do  you  think  you 
are  leaving  your  house  ?  nay,  you  are  dawning  upon  the 
world.  You  cannot  speak  without  all  nations  everywhere 
hearing  your  voice ;  you  cannot  be  angry,  without  making 
everything  tremble,  because  you  can  strike  no  one  without 
shaking  all  around  him.  Just  as  thunderbolts  when  they 
fall  endanger  few  men  but  terrify  all,  so  the  chastisement 
inflicted  by  great  potentates  terrify  more  widely  than  they 
injure,  and  that  for  good  reasons ;  for  in  the  case  of  one 
whose  power  is  absolute,  men  do  not  think  of  what  he  has 
done,  so  much  as  of  what  he  may  do.  Add  to  this  that 
^  Pace.  '^  Tutum. 


CH.  IX.]  ON   CLEMENCY.  391 

private  men  endure  wrongs  more  tamely,  because  they  have 
already  endured  others ;  the  safety  of  kings  on  the  other 
hand  is  more  surely  founded  on  kindness,  because  frequent 
punishment  may  crush  the  hatred  of  a  few,  but  excites  that 
of  all.  A  king  ought  to  wish  to  pardon  while  he  has  still 
grounds  for  being  severe ;  if  he  acts  otherwise,  just  as  lopped 
trees  sprout  forth  again  with  numberless  boughs,  and  many 
kinds  of  crops  are  cut  down  in  order  that  they  may  grow 
more  thickly,  so  a  cruel  king  increases  the  number  of  his 
enemies  by  destroying  them ;  for  the  parents  and  children 
of  those  who  are  put  to  death,  and  their  relatives  and 
friends,  step  into  the  place  of  each  victim. 

IX.  I  wish  to  prove  the  truth  of  this  by  an  example 
drawn  from  your  own  family.  The  late  Emperor  Augustus 
was  a  mild  prince,  if  in  estimating  his  character  one  reckons 
from  the  era  of  his  reign ;  yet  he  appealed  to  arms  while  the 
state  was  shared  among  the  triumvirate.  When  he  was  just 
of  your  age,  at  the  end  of  his  twenty-second  year,  he  had 
already  hidden  daggers  under  the  clothes  of  his  friends,  he 
had  already  conspired  to  assassinate  Marcus  Antonius,  the 
consul,  he  had  already  taken  part  in  the  proscription.  But 
when  he  had  passed  his  sixtieth  ^  year,  and  was  staying  in 

^  Gertz  reads  sexagesimurriy  his  sixtieth  year,  which  he  calls  "  the  not 
very  audacious  conjecture  of  Wesseling/'  and  adds  that  he  does  so  because 
of  the  words  at  the  beginning  of  chap.  xi.  and  the  authority  of  Dion 
Cassias.  The  ordinary  reading  is  quadragesimum,  "  his  fortieth  year," 
and  this  is  the  date  to  which  Cinna's  conspiracy  is  referred  to  by 
Merivale,  "  History  of  the  Romans  under  the  Empire,"  vol.  iv.  ch.  37, 
"  A  plot,"  he  says,  "  was  formed  for  his  destruction,  at  the  head  of  which 
was  Cornelius  Cinna,  described  as  a  son  of  Faustus  Sulla  by  a  daughter 
of  the  Great  Pompeius ."  The  story  of  Cinna's  conspiracy  is  told  by 
Seneca,  de  Clem.  i.  9,  and  Dion  iv.  14,  foil.  They  agree  in  the  main 
fact ;  but  Seneca  is  our  authority  for  the  details  of  the  interview  between 
Augustus  and  his  enemy,  while  Dion  has  doubtless  invented  his  long 
conversation  between  the  emperor  and  Livia.  Seneca,  however,  calls 
the  conspirator  Lucius,  and  places  the  event  in  the  fortieth  year  of 
Augustus  (a.d.  731),  the  scene  in  Gaul :  Dion,  on  the  other,  gives  the 


392  ON   CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I. 

Gaul,  intelligence  was  brought  to  him  that  Lucius  Cinna,  a 
dull  man,  was  plotting  against  him  :  the  plot  was  betrayed 
by  one  of  the  conspirators,  who  told  him  where,  when,  and 
in  what  manner  Cinna  meant  to  attack  him.  Augustus 
determined  to  consult  his  own  safety  against  this  man,  and 
ordered  a  council  of  his  own  friends  to  be  summoned.  He 
passed  a  disturbed  night,  reflecting  that  he  would  be  obliged 
to  condemn  to  death  a  youth  of  noble  birth,  who  was  guilty 
of  no  crime  save  this  one,  and  who  was  the  grandson  of 
Gnaeus  Pompeius.  He,  who  had  sat  at  dinner  and  heard 
M.  Antonius^  read  aloud  his  edict  for  the  proscription, 
could  not  now  bear  to  put  one  single  man  to  death.  With 
groans  he  kept  at  intervals  making  various  inconsistent 
exclamations : — "  What !  shall  I  allow  my  assassin  to  walk 
about  at  his  ease  while  I  am  racked  by  fears  ?  Shall  the 
man  not  be  punished  who  has  plotted  not  merely  to  slay 
but  actually  to  sacrifice  at  the  altar  "  (for  the  conspirators 
intended  to  attack  him  when  he  was  sacrificing),  "now 
when  there  is  peace  by  land  and  sea,  that  life  which  so 
many  civil  wars  have  sought  in  vain,  which  has  passed  un- 
harmed through  so  many  battles  of  fleets  and  armies  ?  " 

Then,  after  an  interval  of  silence,  he  would  say  to  himself 
in  a  far  louder,  angrier  tone  than  he  had  used  to  Cinna,  "Why 
do  you  live,  if  it  be  to  so  many  men's  advantage  that  you 
should  die  ?  Is  there  no  end  to  these  executions  ?  to  this 
bloodshed  ?  I  am  a  figure  set  up  for  nobly-born  youths  to 
sharpen  their  swords  on.  Is  life  worth  having,  if  so  many 
must  perish  to  prevent  my  losing  it  ?  "  At  last  his  wife 
Livia  interrupted  him,  saying  :  "  Will  you  take  a  woman's 

names  of  Gnaeus,  and  supposes  the  circumstances  to  have  occured 
twenty-six  years  later,  and  at  Rome.  It  may  be  observed  that  a  son 
of  Faustus  Sulla  must  have  been  at  least  fifty  at  this  latter  date,  nor  do 
we  know  why  he  should  bear  the  name  of  Cinna,  though  an  adoption  is 
not  impossible. 

^  See  Shakespeare's  "  Julius  Caesar,"  Act  IV.  Sc.  1. 


CH.  IX.]  ON   CLEMENCY.  393 

advice?  Do  as  the  physicians  do,  who,  when  the  usual 
remedies  fail,  try  their  opposites.  Hitherto  you  have 
gained  nothing  by  harsh  measures :  Salvidienus  has  been 
followed  by  Lepidus,  Lepidus  by  Muraena,  Muraena  by 
Caepio,  and  Caepio  by  Egnatius,  not  to  mention  others  of 
whom  one  feels  ashamed  of  their  having  dared  to  attempt 
so  great  a  deed.  Now  try  what  effect  clemency  will  have : 
pardon  Lucius  Cinna.  He  has  been  detected,  he  cannot 
now  do  you  any  harm,  and  he  can  do  your  reputation  much 
good."  Delighted  at  finding  some  one  to  support  his  own 
view  of  the  case,  he  thanked  his  wife,  straightway  ordered 
his  friends,  whose  counsel  he  had  asked  for,  to  be  told  that 
he  did  not  require  their  advice,  and  summoned  Cinna  alone. 
After  ordering  a  second  seat  to  be  placed  for  Cinna,  he  sent 
every  one  else  out  of  the  room,  and  said  : — "  The  first  re- 
quest which  I  have  to  make  of  you  is,  that  you  will  not 
interrupt  me  while  I  am  speaking  to  you :  that  you  will 
not  cry  out  in  the  middle  of  my  address  to  you  :  you  shall 
be  allowed  time  to  speak  freely  in  answer  to  me.  Cinna, 
when  I  found  you  in  the  enemy's  camp,  you  who  had  not 
become  but  were  actually  born  my  enemy,  I  saved  your 
life,  and  restored  to  you  the  whole  of  your  father's  estate. 
You  are  now  so  prosperous  and  so  rich,  that  many  of  the 
victorious  party  envy  you,  the  vanquished  one :  when  you 
were  a  candidate  for  the  priesthood  I  passed  over  many 
others  whose  parents  had  served  with  me  in  the  wars,  and 
gave  it  to  you :  and  now,  after  I  have  deserved  so  well  of  you, 
you  have  made  up  your  mind  to  kill  me."  When  at  this  word 
the  man  exclaimed  that  he  was  far  from  being  so  insane, 
Augustus  replied,  "  You  do  not  keep  your  promise,  Cinna ; 
it  was  agreed  upon  between  us  that  you  should  not  interrupt 
me.  I  repeat,  you  are  preparing  to  kill  me."  He  then 
proceeded  to  tell  him  of  the  place,  the  names  of  his  accom- 
plices, the  day,  the  way  in  which  they  had  arranged  to  do 
the  deed,  and  which  of  them  was  to  give  the  fatal  stab. 


394  ON    CLEMENCY.  [bK.  I, 

When  he  saw  Cinna's  eyes  fixed  npon  the  ground,  and  that  he 
was  silent,  no  longer  because  of  the  agreement,  but  from  con- 
sciousness of  his  guilt,  he  said,  "  What  is  your  intention  in 
doing  this  ?  is  it  that  you  yourself  may  be  emperor  ?  The 
Roman  people  must  indeed  be  in  a  bad  way  if  nothing  but 
my  life  prevents  your  ruling  over  them.  You  cannot  even 
maintain  the  dignity  of  your  own  house  :  you  have  recently 
been  defeated  in  a  legal  encounter  by  the  superior  influence 
of  a  freedman :  and  so  you  can  find  no  easier  task  than  to 
call  your  friends  to  rally  round  you  against  Csesar.  Come, 
now,  if  you  think  that  I  alone  stand  in  the  way  of  your 
ambition ;  will  Paulus  and  Fabius  Maximus,  will  the  Cossi 
and  the  Servilii  and  all  that  band  of  nobles,  whose  names 
are  no  empty  pre